The Theoretical Aspect of Targeted Killings: The Phoenix Program as a Case Study

Tal Tovy

Abstract


One of the measures employed in the war against guerrilla warfare and terrorism is the targeted killing, with the main aim of directly attacking the higher-ranking (both military leaders and political cadres) activists of the guerrilla or terror organizations and refraining, as far as possible, from injuring innocent citizens.
This article has two purposes. The first is to examine the military theory that supports the mechanism for this kind of activity. The second is to explain the essential nature of targeted killings as an operational tool, on both the strategic and tactical levels, in the war against guerrilla warfare and terrorism. By this we can ask how the theories that stand behind the war against guerrilla or terrorism had an influence on the targeted killings. Therefore we need to see the targeted killing as a warfare model of counterterrorism and not as a criminal action.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.