Was bin Laden’s killing and burial legal?

A key detail in the initial narrative of the historic operation that killed the world’s most wanted man – al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – has proven to be inconsistent, raising concerns about what really happened at the lavish gated compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

US president Barack Obama and his officials announced Sunday night that bin Laden “was engaged in a firefight” and was killed by US Navy SEAL commandos after an intense exchange. But the story was altered when White House press secretary acknowledged on Tuesday that bin Laden was unarmed when shot dead.

Amid accusations of possible violations of international laws, the US attorney general justified the raid “as an action of national self-defence” against “a lawful military target”.

Boosted by Obama’s refusal to release photos of bin Laden’s body, suspicions of foul play during the 40-minute high-profile covert operation are being posed:

If bin Laden was an unarmed target, how can the SEAL commandos’ lethal gunshots qualify as an act of self-defence against an imminent risk during a high-profile covert operation?

Did the US have the right to perform a targeted killing against Osama bin Laden?

Was it legal for the US to carry out a military operation on Pakistani territory without notifying its government?

Why was bin Laden’s burial held in such haste?

Experts weigh in.  Read further:

This is posted courtesy of Atif Mir, our Editor for Law.

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