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This article analyzes the existing concepts of the right of self-defense and preemption under international law. Part I quickly reviews both the evolution of warfare and the state of religious-based terrorism. The former presents a useful starting point for understanding customary international law and its subset, generally referred to as "the laws and customs of war. Customary international law provides context to the application and shortcomings of contemporary codified international law, and, therefore, serves an important heuristic function in understanding the international legal limits on combating this increasingly frequent form of terrorism. In the end, this article concludes that both anticipatory self-defense and preemption are credible theories in limited circumstances, including those in which an organization employs a visible strategy of terror. Where such strategy is employed, the group and its supporters may be permissibly subject to a response employing military force.

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Air Force Law Review



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