Bombing the funerals of your opponents is a red line in most conflicts. The Israelis don’t bomb Hamas or Hizbullah funerals, and vice versa. George Bush refused to bomb Taliban funerals. Al-Qaeda, however, has no such compunctions, as it repeatedly has sent suicide bombers to attack people attending the funerals of relatives killed in prior al-Qaeda attacks.
That is why I was surprised to see a report at Bill Roggio’s The Long War Journal that U.S. Predator drones attacked a funeral procession for a Taliban leader killed in a prior U.S. attack:
The US carried out its second Predator airstrike inside South Waziristan today. Unmanned Predator aircraft killed more than 65 Taliban fighters in a follow-on attack near the headquarters for Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.
The Predator strike aircraft fired three Hellfire missiles as Taliban fighters gathered for a funeral of Khog Wali, a leader in Baitullah’s army in South Waziristan who was among six Taliban fighters killed in the first US airstrike earlier today.
I’m not sure if attacking a funeral is a “war crime.” It may depend on whether civilians were killed along with Taliban fighters. Killing civilians as part of a military attack is the justification used for war crimes investigations of Israel in Spain.
Such a high profile and almost unprecedented attack must have been approved at the highest levels, including by Barack Obama himself.
As I predicted long ago, the willingness of many in the U.S. to outsource war crimes investigations of Bush administration officials for the interrogation policies would come back to haunt the Obama administration. In time, Obama may be asking the next President for protection against those who seek political retribution for tough decisions taken in time of war.
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