After the Dubai assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, I asked my French Pen Pal waht she thought of the assassination, and, failing that, assassinations against terrorist leaders in general.  The resulting point of view was not terribly far from my own.  For her, assassination was wrong for a variety of reasons.  In more detail:

“…people must be judged before put in jail / killed”   One of the major differences for her is that assassination is unofficial, and does not allow for the expression of statements in the target’s defense.  This was the difference between judgement by a judge, and judgement by an intelligence agency – even if the intelligence agency is right, it still does not let the target speak in his defense.

When I asked her whether she thought assassinations could be effective, irregardless of their legality or justness, she  replied:  “It might have an effect, it might not have an effect. Terrorists are willing to die, so they don’t mind too much if they are killed / if their leaders is killed. This leader might be replaced bu another extremist leader who is not scared of death.”

She also noted that terrorists did not judge people before they killed them either.  However, she went on to note that just because terrorists do not bring proper judgement before killing, it does not mean that such behavior is alright.

Lastly, she also noted that assassinations are perhaps a little bit better than terrorism in that at least they target the people responsible.  Still wrong, though.