Interviewed in The Telegraph

I’m quoted in this Rob Crilly story about UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s comments on the legality of drone strikes.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said: “If it is lawful for the US to drone al-Qaeda associates wherever they find them, then it is also lawful for al-Qaeda to target US military or infrastructure wherever (militants) find them.”

The comparison misses important distinctions between drones and al-Qaeda, according to Joshua Foust, an American counter-terrorism analyst.

“It is unlawful for al-Qaeda to engage in violence, period. They are an illegal, illegitimate militant group. All acts of violence they commit are unlawful,” he said. “The drones in Pakistan, on the other hand, are flown by the US Air Force – they are legitimate combatants. They might be ordered to engage in unlawful strikes, but they are not on their own illegal combatants.”

I’m still a bit flabbergasted that the UN Special Rapporteur thinks there is any context in which al Qaeda’s use of force is legitimate. Makes me question his fundamental understanding of the law.

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