David Cameron’s statement that Britain will take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of this parliament was overshadowed by his announcement that an RAF drone had killed two British ISIL fighters in Syria in August.
Cameron said that that Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin had been killed in a lawful act of ‘self-defence’ as they were planning and encouraging terrorist attacks in Britain. He stressed that this was a targeted action and that he would come back to the House of Commons to seek permission for more generalised action in Syria; the Commons voted against military action there in 2013.
Now, it is hard to think of many more serious matters than the killing of a British citizens by the British state. However, given that bringing this pair to trial was almost impossible (there was no simple or safe way to remove them from Syria) and that the intelligence agencies believed that they posed a clear threat to UK security, then it is hard to see what the alternative was.
Khan and Amin had both featured in an IS video, urging Britons to join the organisation. So, there can be no doubt about their membership of the group and it is hard to see how joining IS does not constitute treason. Though, obviously, extra-judicial killing outside of wartime can only possibly be justified when there is no realistic prospect of bringing those targeted to trial.