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An assassination campaign is a series of assassinations carried out to achieve a larger political goal.


In the 19th century, Will of the People carried out a campaign of assassinations against high-ranking Russian leaders.[1]

In India, militants launched an assassination campaign against AD (L) and AD (B) members.[2] In northern Ireland, an assassination campaign was directed against representatives of the British Army, the RUC, the Ulster Defence Regiment, and their respective reserves.[3] Operation Wrath of God was an assassination campaign. According to The Washington Post, among Syria's "most notable activities of the past few years have been the serial assassination of senior Lebanese politicians, including former prime minister Rafik Hariri".[4] According to The New York Times, in 2007, Sunni Arab extremists began a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq, staging at least 10 attacks in 48 hours.[5]

Assassination campaigns also occurred in the North Caucasus.[6] Assassination campaigns have taken place as well in Iran.[7] Operation Condor was another assassination campaign. The Taliban has also been waging an assassination campaign against members of the Afghan central government.[8]

In 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush signed an intelligence finding that could have opened the door to an American targeted killing campaign. In The Impact of 9/11 and the New Legal Landscape: The Day That Changed Everything?, the point is made that "There is a major difference between assassination and targeted killing.... targeted killing [is] not synonymous with assassination. Assassination ... constitutes an illegal killing."[9] Similarly, Amos Guiora, Professor of law at the University of Utah, writes: "Targeted killing is ... not an assassination", Steve David, Johns Hopkins Associate Dean & Professor of International Relations, writes: "there are strong reasons to believe that the Israeli policy of targeted killing is not the same as assassination", Syracuse Law Professor William Banks and GW Law Professor Peter Raven-Hansen write: "Targeted killing of terrorists is ... not unlawful and would not constitute assassination", Rory Miller writes: "Targeted killing ... is not 'assassination'", and Associate Professor Eric Patterson and Teresa Casale write: "Perhaps most important is the legal distinction between targeted killing and assassination".[10][11][12][12][13] Former CIA operative Sam Wyman believed that method should only be used as a last resort.[14] Barack Obama has ordered unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out targeted killing attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, which the U.S. distinguishes from assassinations,[15] though this semantic is disputed by his critics.[16]


  1. ^ James M. Lutz, Brenda J. Lutz. "Terrorism and Ideologies of the Left". Global terrorism. pp. 119–120.
  2. ^ John McGarry, Brendan O'Leary. The Politics of ethnic conflict regulation.
  3. ^ Foley, Thomas P., Public Security and Individual Freedom: The Dilemma of Northern Ireland, 8 Yale J. World Pub. Ord. 284 (1981–1982)
  4. ^ "Mr. Assad's Medicine". The Washington Post. October 28, 2008.
  5. ^ Pitney, Nico (September 26, 2007). "Sunnis Insurgents Launch 'Systematic Assassination Campaign'". Huffington Post.
  6. ^[tt_news]=3454
  7. ^ Lowther, William; Freeman, Colin (February 25, 2007). "US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  8. ^ Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved April 14, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Matthew J. Morgan (2009). The Impact of 9–11: The New Legal Landscape. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-60838-2. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
  10. ^ Amos Guiora (2004). "Targeted Killing as Active Self-Defense". 36 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 31920. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
  11. ^ Steven R. David (September 2002). "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy Of Targeted Killing" (PDF). The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 16, 2010. Retrieved May 29, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ a b Rory Miller (2007). Ireland and the Middle East: trade, society and peace. Irish Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-7165-2868-5. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
  13. ^ "Targeted Killing and Assassination: The U.S. Legal Framework", Banks, William C., Raven-Hansen, Peter, 37 U. Rich. L. Rev. 667 (2002–03). Retrieved October 89, 2010.
  14. ^ "An Eye For An Eye". CBS News. November 20, 2001.
  15. ^ "Obama ups Pakistan drone strikes in assassination campaign". Christian Science Monitor. 2010-02-02.
  16. ^ Chomsky, Noam. "Noam Chomsky on the new Trump era". Youtube. Al Jazeera Upfront. Retrieved 2 December 2016.