A military operation to catch international terrorist Zulkfli bin Hir (alyas Marwan) was carried out. The military has had several failed attempts to nail the above terrorist from way back 2012. Last January 25, 2015, the said terrorist was finally nailed, though it cannot be said this was done successfully. Marwan was killed in the middle of the operation. The price for his ‘capture’ was the lives of 44 police officers who were involved in the special action force. While the president has taken responsibility for the death of the 44, he refuses to take responsibility for the operation that led to their death, claiming the chief director of the special action force had every opportunity to abort the operation. The question the present administration is avoiding is who ordered the operation to begin with.

It goes against logic to take responsibility for the consequences of one’s action, while claiming exemption from responsibility for the action itself. It also goes without saying that the president is the head of the armed forces from whom all orders emanate. Given the military principle of following a chain of command, the chief director of the special action force would not have proceeded with the deadly operation if there was no go signal from the highest authority of the military.

An encounter like this reflects one of the biggest challenges to efficient leadership. Leadership will always require discretion. In the military, this discretion needs to be exercised between the lines of risking peoples’ lives and attaining a government’s objective, with the objective far outweighing the risk to civilian lives.

The international terrorist Marwan has finally been caught – dead. He cannot be brought to justice now as he has taken his criminal liability to his grave. He also took 44 police officers with him. Therefore, there will be no justice for his acts of terrorism and there will be no tomorrow for the police officers who laid down their lives for the capture of 1 criminal.

Was it worth it? The objective of justice has not been, and will now never be, attained. Again, 44 lives were lost in the process. The answer is obvious.


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