Is it morally wrong to kill suspected terrorists?


For example, was it wrong for the Navy Seals to kill people inside the Bin Laden compound that were unarmed but were suspected of having suicide bomb vests? What about drone strikes killing suspected terrorists?


In principle, no. In practice, though, I think it’s pretty much accepted that any adult in that compound who wasn’t first seen face down with their hands behind their head was going to get killed.

What about drone strikes killing suspected terrorists?

Assuming our suspicions are based on solid evidence, then no. But again, in practical terms, too often our drone strikes wind up killing or maiming some number of innocents.


I don’t know what the Catholic Church would say about all of that for certain, but I generally support those actions generally because they are

  1. Designed to minimized collateral damage

  2. More or less like police raids----although the drones mean certain death, so that is certainly not the same.

I could also see circumstances where it would not be just—ie someone genuinely surrendering.

  1. The last two Popes seem to have said it’s necessary to some degree, but they weren’t exactly pleased about the necessity of it all.


It is morally licit. IMHO, not only is it licit to kill them; I can make a case that it is immoral not to kill them, given the risk they pose to the innocent.

We are talking about people who crucify children; behead captives; and now have burned a prisoner alive in a cage. Hitler’s Waffen-SS, at their worst, might rival these. Might rival. Might.

We are talking about people who would gladly kill each and every poster on this thread if given half a chance to do so.

Yes, killing them is morally licit.


DANG IT!!! :banghead: I accidently clicked the wrong one.

I meant to click “Yes, it is morally wrong”

It is because we never know of the person’s intentions at that very moment. However, if it comes to that moment where they seem to be refusing to surrender, then there is the possibility for self-defense.


For me, it depends. My thought is that such terrorists should be captured alive, if possible. However, like any criminal or any opposition soldier, such may very well not be possible due to threats on one’s own life - and in times of battle, it is often difficult to tell whether a specific person poses an immediate threat or not. It would definitely be morally wrong to kill any captured (and disarmed) suspected terrorist without a trial.

As for drone strikes (aka Obama’s favorite way of doing combat)… well, I don’t think they’re much morally different than bombing runs by manned aircraft - except for the pilot being hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away.


I would argue that Jesus was very clear on the sin of murder. It is unnatural and morally corrupt, no matter the reason.


I think it really depends on the situation. If we have a person who we believe is carrying a bomb into a kindergarten, then it would clearly be morally correct to kill him, assuming there is no other way to stop him. But most circumstances are not that cut and dry. I guess it’s best to say that it is possible for there to be a just reason to kill a terrorist, but all attempts should be made to avoid that choice first.


No. Definitely not. Of the accounts published in the declassified literature regarding such situations, SEALS are trained well in advance as to how to handle multiple scenarios.

Based on the published literature, drone strikes are an entirely different story but again, preplanned scenarios and training regarding certain things will help the pilots of such drones evaluate the situations they encounter. If a target has been selected and intel confirms the target will be in a certain building or localized area, then orders are issued to eliminate the target. In other cases, the pilots must call in to get authorization from a superior before engaging other targets that are following certain behavior patterns. Everything is being watched and recorded in real time. Making a mistake is not the goal.

Violating the airspace of a sovereign country in pursuit of terrorists is another consideration.



Well, the same could be said of any abortion docs…they would also have willingly killed any poster on here, if their fee had been paid upfront…only difference is ‘mans laws’ versus Gods law…whose do you think we would be better off following/ obeying?


Mikekle, those are apples and oranges, and you know that.

There are many reasons I say this. The most evident is because of degree; because abortionists likely act for a profit motive, ie they can be reasoned with even if we don’t want to; and because the civil law regrettably allows what they do.

I also think that lots of people want terrorists dead but simpy lack the courage to do the deed themselves. I posit that many of those who claim moral repugnance at the deaths of terrorists are just too cowardly to act but are all too happy to have others act for them.

Now, what would be your answer to those who crucify children; burn victims alive; practice sexual slavery, and the like? Is it morally illicit to ever kill them? Do we need them to be about to strike the match where the victim is covered in gasoline? Can we shoot when they douse gas on the victim? Can we never shoot? Must we merely pray? Try to understand the poor victimized terrorists?

Only the most hopelessly naive would say that it is always illict to kill terrorists, particularly since the Church itself allows violence to protect the innocent.


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