Boris Johnson has accused Jeremy Corbyn of being “naive to the point of being dangerous” after he suggested the leader of Islamic State (IS) should have been arrested and put on trial.
The Labour leader said that if it had been possible to take Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi alive and put him before the International Criminal Court, that would have been “the right thing to do”.
But speaking at a Conservative campaign event in Coventry, Mr Johnson said he was not being “realistic” about the measures needed to protect the country in the face of terrorist threats.
Al-Baghdadi died last month when he blew himself up with a suicide vest during a raid by US special forces on his hideout in Syria.
In an interview with LBC radio, Mr Corbyn said it was “a very good thing” that the IS leader had been “removed from the scene”.
But at the same time, he said he stood by the view he expressed in 2011 when he said it was a “tragedy” that Osama bin Laden had been killed rather than brought to trial.
“If we believe, as we do, in international law and justice and the power of the International Court of Justice, then we should do everything we can to bring people, where they deserve to go on trial, to be put on trial,” he said.
“If it would have been possible to arrest him (al-Baghdadi) – I don’t know the details of the circumstances at the time, I’ve only seen various statements put out by the US about it – surely that would have been the right thing to do.
“If we want to live in a world of peace and justice, we should practise it as well.”
Asked about the Labour leader’s comments, Mr Johnson strongly defended the actions of the US special forces.
“Al-Baghdadi was an absolute diabolical foe of this country, of our liberal values, everything we believe in and support. He was responsible for untold murders,” he said.
“I do not think it realistic to suggest that he could just be apprehended by the police, or anybody, in the circumstances in which he was finally run to ground.
“It is very important when you look at the threats this country faces that we are realistic about what we need to do to be strong in the face of those threats.
“I think his (Mr Corbyn’s) approach is naive and it is naive to the point of being dangerous.”
Mr Corbyn’s record on national security matters has been a persistent theme of the Conservative campaign, with criticism of his response to the Salisbury chemical weapons attack and his approach to the Trident nuclear deterrent.