Captured alive, he would have been both a source of potentially damning information and a symbol of his organization's impotence.
The reason, Foster argues, is that impotence implies a lack of virility, a lack of manliness.
European history also suggests the impotence of criminal law in these matters.
early 15c., "physical weakness," also "poverty," from Middle French impotence "weakness," from Latin impotentia "lack of control or power," from impotentem (nominative impotens); see impotent. In reference to a want of (male) sexual potency, from c.1500. The figurative senses of the word in Latin were "violence, fury, unbridled passion." Related: Impotency.
impotence im·po·tence (ĭm'pə-təns) or im·po·ten·cy (-tən-sē)
The quality or condition of being impotent.