Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2014

Targeted Killing of Terrorists

Nicholas Rostow

March 2014

Institute for National Strategic Studies


The battle against terrorism raises important legal and policy concerns for the United States. Efforts to prevent terrorist attacks include the controversial practice of targeted killing, for example- the identification and killing of individuals involved in terrorist operations and organizations. Authority for targeted killing exists in domestic and international law. As a matter of policy even if it is not legally required, the United States should use the Geneva Conventions of 1949 to guide its confrontations with terrorists.