27 September 2002

Excerpt: U.S. Is Against Israel's "Targeted Killings," Says Boucher, September 26, 2002

(Urges Israel to comply with latest UN Security Council Resolution) (1080)

The United States criticized Israel's September 26 attempt to kill a Hamas militant as a "targeted killing" and urged Israelís compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1435, said Department of State Spokesman Richard Boucher at the September 27 regular briefing.

"We are against targeted killings. We're against the use of heavy weaponry in urban areas, even when it comes to people like Mohammed Deif, who have been responsible for the deaths of American citizens," said Boucher at the State Department's September 27 regular briefing.

Boucher told reporters that any individual "responsible for terror and violence needs to be brought to justice," but adding that "operations such as those conducted in Gaza endanger civilian lives and inflame tensions and undermine efforts for peace."

In regards to UN Security Resolution 1435, which calls for an immediate end to Israel's military measures in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Boucher said "we continue to work and talk to the parties and look for implementation of the resolution."

"We have said we expect Israel to comply with this resolution...We've urged the government of Israel to cease the measures it's taking in and around Ramallah. We support the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities to the positions they held in September 2000 consistent with security requirements," said Boucher.

On a different matter, Boucher also told reporters that the Bush Administration "received uncorroborated information indicating that as of this summer, one member of the al Qaeda organization was considering a plan to kidnap U.S. citizens in Jordan." According to the spokesman, the U.S. embassy in Amman put out a warden message September 26 in order to alert Americans that live there.

Although information to determine the credibility of the threat is not yet available, Boucher said "it was necessary and appropriate to tell Americans resident in Jordan who might be subject to this about it just in case it turned out to be real."

Following is an excerpt from the September 27 State Department briefing with Richard Boucher:
(begin excerpt)

QUESTION: Richard, the Middle East. Do you have any comment on the Gaza raid yesterday? You used to be against these targeted killings.

MR. BOUCHER: We still are against targeted killings.

QUESTION: Particularly this one? I mean, in reference to this one?

MR. BOUCHER: We are against targeted killings. We are against the use of heavy weaponry in urban areas, even when it comes to people like Mohamed Deif, who have been responsible for the deaths of American citizens. We do think these people need to be brought to justice. Anyone responsible for terror and violence needs to be brought to justice. But operations such as those conducted in Gaza endanger civilian lives, and inflame tensions, and undermine efforts for peace.

QUESTION: And Ramallah? There is, of course, that Security Council resolution which is still awaiting implementation. What are you doing about that?

MR. BOUCHER: We have said we expect Israel to comply with this resolution. We're in close touch with the Israeli Government. We have urged the Government of Israel to cease the measures it's taking in and around Ramallah. We support the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities to the positions they held in September of 2000, consistent with security requirements.

So we continue to work and talk to the parties, and look for implementation of the resolution.

QUESTION: And what -- those contacts you've been having, can you say what level they are, who's contacted who?

MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador in Jerusalem has been very active on this issue at all levels of the Israeli Government.

QUESTION: And Mr. Burns too, or not?

MR. BOUCHER: Don't know what contacts he might have had. He's frequently on the phone with people in the region; I just don't know if he's had any meetings.

QUESTION: Richard, on China --

QUESTION: Wait, can I --

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Just next door. What can you tell us about this embassy message that was sent out yesterday in Amman, saying that there was an al-Qaida threat to kidnap Americans there?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd tell you what it says in the message, and that's really the extent that I think I can go into it.

The embassy put out a Warden message yesterday in order to make as much information available as possible to the Americans who live there. And what they told people is the US Government received uncorroborated information indicating that as of this summer, one member of the al-Qaida organization was considering a plan to kidnap US citizens in Jordan. That's as much as we're able to say. There's no further information available to determine the credibility of this threat or any indications of the timing.

But they felt it was necessary and appropriate to tell Americans resident in Jordan who might be subject to this about it, just in case it turned out to be real.

QUESTION: But Richard, aren't you normally -- isn't there like a procedure for putting out this kind of information? Usually the uncorroborated information is not given out the public because it might freak people out and stuff?

MR. BOUCHER: There are procedures for doing this. We try to evaluate every bit of information, and find out if it's useful. I think the standard has always been specific, credible, and cannot be countered. But we have also tried to be prudent in making available information where we could, so that people, particularly who live in places where there may be dangers from time to time, so that they have the best sense -- as much information as they can. And many of these judgments are made locally by the embassies, in terms of what they feel is necessary to put out, given their relations with the American community there.

QUESTION: So in this particular case, you can -- and it's okay to put out information that's only one source?

MR. BOUCHER: It's uncorroborated information, that's true. And we made that clear; I think they made that clear to the people involved. But when you have a population that would be the presumed targets of this, you need to tell people.

There's also the double-standard issue, frankly, in that if you feel it's necessary and appropriate to tell your staff to do certain things, to watch out for kidnappings, then you really owe it to the other residents, American residents there, to tell them, even if you're doing it on the basis of uncorroborated information. So that's why many of these judgments are made locally.

(end excerpt)