Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Monday, July 25, 2005

Epigram of Our Times

Update 27 July: Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday. Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Metropolitan police, Vivien Figueiredo, 22, said that the first reports of how her 27-year-old cousin had come to be killed in mistake for a suicide bomber on Friday at Stockwell tube station were wrong. "He used a travel card," she said. "He had no bulky jacket, he was wearing a jeans jacket."

Surely the most frightening thing is how quickly we have come to share the terrorists' evident belief that innocent people must die.
Robin Saltonstall, Beverley, UK [Found at BBC's Have Your Say on the public execution of Jean Charles de Menezes]

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton thinks like a terrorist in suggesting that "many more people will die". More good news from Big Dog: "Open society is unsustainable."


Blogger Ryan said...

That pretty much says it all.

7:32 PM  
Blogger raf* said...

ya nur,

surely you do know that there is a difference between saying "innocent people MUST die" & "innocent people WILL die".

i don't subcribe to the former but maintain that anyone who thinks that the latter is wrong is naive.

there WILL be more terrorist attacks. there WILL be more "collateral damage".

the point is to work together to (a) limit the devastation in the short run & to (b) end the "culture wars" in the long run.

(B) is very much like global warming -- even if we change everything RIGHT NOW, it will still take decades to overcome the damage done.

6:50 AM  
Blogger raf* said...

ps: PLEASE stop calling the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes a "public execution". it was a killing, it was a homicide, it was a mistake, etc.

execution = planned beforehand.

the bri'ish police did not plan to execute de Menezes beforehand -- if they had, they'd've used a sniper. what they did was to engage in a "last resort" action - to use lethal force in order to prevent a crime.

and just in case - YES, they made a mistake.


you are becoming like those people who call every genocide a "holocaust", every dictator a "fascist", and every sexual harrassment a "rape". this only devaluates those terms.

the bri'ish police KILLED de Menezes. isn't that enough?

6:58 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Hmmm....what do you call a killing by the authorities? Would that be lynching? Nope. Homicide. Nope, that's for drunk drivers. Could it be...execution? And yeah, I think it was planned on the 15-minute bus ride to Stockwell Station.

Here's another topsy-turvy angle: the benefit of the doubt has been transferred from the British citizenry to the police. A monumental reversal.

8:55 AM  
Blogger raf* said...

to execute = carry out a sentence of death on (a condemned person)

if on the 15 min bus ride the police had decided - if he goes into the tube we'll ask him to stop & if he doesn't stop we'll shoot him - that would still not be an execution.

if someone threatens to kill someone else & that "someone else" then kills the threatening person - that's not execution, it's self-defense.

what would YOU have done?

9:47 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

I would have questioned my assumptions on profiling based on race and on attire. I would recall that a profile is merely a construct. I would consider that I knew nothing about this man. I would have drawn near to him on the bus and started a conversation about the weather. The British are very good at this. I would not be threatening, just matter-of-fact and thereby learned everything I needed to know.

The plainclothes police were part of some sort of assassination unit--with extrajudicial powers involving life and death (i.e., judge, jury and executioner) formally invested in them by the British government--and unleashed on the unsuspecting public.

Based on a construct divorced from reality, the death squad shot the innocent victim in the mouth seven times to destroy his brain. Based on a construct! Indefensible.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Mark from Ireland said...

I'm with ashraf al-mansur on this one Nur at present based on the evidence that is available to us it is possible that the police officers involved engaged in an unlawful killing. Your remarks are way over the top and frankly both unwarranted and inflammatory.

It may be that the officers involved decided to kill him in advance if he engaged in particular activity. In which case they may well face a homicide trial.

Moreover: (this is me wearing my barrister hat or rather wig)* The ACPO guidelines have yet to be tested for legality should they be found not to have force of law rather a lot of senior British officials are going to be in very hot legal water indeed.

My opinion FWIW is that the police officers involved acted on a balance of probability and that an innocent man who paniced died as a result.

* British and Irish law particularly in this field are remarkably similar. And much of British "anti-terror" law is largely a rewrite of Irish law.

British barristers are permitted with certain limitations to practise in Irish courts and vice versa. That being said I have never practised in a UK court so my opinion is an "educated guess" and nothing more.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

But Mark...the 15 minute bus ride, a space in which they could have learned more. Good god, people run from police all_the_time. And our society is full of innocent paranoids, for heaven's sake. Not to mention that in the USA, the car chase with the cops is a Saturday night tradition.

And they decided to shoot him--why? Because he might have scratched his nose on the bus in addition to the brown skin and the bulky jacket? That _had_ to be flimsy. The poor fellow deserved the benefit of the doubt which now appears to be granted police and govt assassins.

If this had occurred in some far flung land of turmoil, like Baghdad...But London, the bastion of law and order, an international city of millions, where hundreds of thousands have the exact same profile! That's my problem!

That and the assumption that everyone in the city knows the rules of the game during a stakeout--they don't! That and the authoritative 24-hour claim of Sir Ian that the dead Brazilian was directly linked to the bombings to cover his ass.

Anyway, the answer to decreasing and eliminating the risk of bombing does not lie deploying shoot-to-kill teams looking for walking profiles.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Mark from Ireland said...

Nur you do NOT under any circumstances whatsoever approach a bomber suspected or actual if there is even the remotest possibility that so doing will cause them to detonate their device.

I take your points I even agree with many of them BUT

- how do you know that he was not behaving suspiciously on the bus?

- you don't.

How do you know that they didn't give him the benefit of the doubt on the bus?

- you don't.

On what basis is it reasonable to say that those policemen either could or should have made and effort to strike up a conversation with a suspected suicide bomber on a bus thereby very likely causing him to panic and detonate the damn thing. - I've rarely met a suicidal policeman.

How do you know that when in their opinion the unfortunate man having:

1)Behaved suspiciously.

2)Having emerged from a building that was under observation.

3) Was dressed in a manner (height of summer) that was odd and could well be concealing a bomb under his coat and then entered the underground system where there had been suicide bomb attacks and ran when challenged (for whatever reason)

- you don't.

You don't know any of these things any more than I do.

What we know is that an innocent man behaved in way that led police officers to believe that he might be about to commit mass murder and in the process kill himself.

The police killed him to prevent this. It may well be that that was justifiable homicide.

- we don't know.

You don't know - neither do I

On what basis therefore are you making statements like it was planned?

I'm sorry but I have to say that I think you're making inflammatory statements.

Unlike in the USA British police - even in Ulster - don't open fire with monotonous regularity. Far from it.

I'm well aware - non better - that in Ulster for a time there was a shoot to kill policy. The British are well aware that it misfired on them disastrously.

(Dear god that I would ever find myself defending a british cop is well nigh unbelievable .............)

except .....

They're entitled to the same protection of the law as everybody else. Like the right to be presumed innocent until found guilty ... Like the right not to be defamed ...

I can and do make all sort of criticisms - there are all sorts of very unpleasant questions to be answered - you've raised some of them. But the simple fact is that it appears that the police thought mistakenly he was going to kill himself and others and took the one action guaranteed to prevent it.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

how do you know that he was not behaving suspiciously on the bus?
Oh, Mark, suspicious behavior is so...relative. And I don't know what the criteria for suspicion of an ex-pat Brazilian are! There's hundreds of thousands of foreigners in the city, each with their own ideosyncracies!

He took a short cut thru the building to get to the bus stop...he didn't even live there! So no one was watching the back door?

A jacket in the am? maybe he slept at his girlfriend's apartment and put on his jacket from the night before? He was coming down with the flu? He was recovering from a hangover? He had been to a rave?

I don't even think it was police. I think it might have been a Defence Ministry outfit untrained for urban combat in which the civilians of the scenario-->would be their own.

On July 6th, no one would have cared! Suddenly on the 21st, Joe Civilian doesnt' realize that his attire, his mannerisms, and his gait make him Public Enemy No 1.!! No idea!

I admit I have a big chip on my shoulder for Blair, Bush and Aznar after their meeting at Ponta Delgada on São Miguel to criminally plot and lie to their people with the technicality of being offshore, in legal limbo. So one more innocent life means nothing to any of them!

Now Blair doesn't know what to do! He put the "special relationship" ahead of his people. His Arabists told him this was the risk. So he deploys the military to the streets of London looking for persons unknown! Well, dang, that makes a hell of a lot of innocent people targets.

The commission of inquest may reveal the details. In the meantime, I am angry and disgusted! Yes, the terrorists are criminals and they are among the general populace. Yes there is going to be debate in Parliament about striking the balance between liberty and security. Yes, habeas corpus may be suspended because of the "enemy within". Yes the police should be visible on the Tube. But I don't go in for blowing out the brains of everyone in Brixton based on a profile!

I know British cops in AngleSaxonia don't normally shoot. My encounters with them there have caused me to admire "plod." They were invariable polite but firm.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Winston from America said...

"Mark from Ireland said.....'They're entitled to the same protection of the law as everybody else. Like the right to be presumed innocent until found guilty' ..." speaking of British law enforcement officers. These are perilous times and I am very sympathetic to the British LEOs point of view. I heard someone say that this is a "shooting war" that we are involved whether we want to realize it or not. Somehow, things have gotten turned around to the point where there is no innocence until proven guilty for Joe and Jane average citizen. Here in the US we are searched at the airport, searched at the subway, inspected at seat belt checks and DUI stops. Records kept by the library on book borrowing as well as medical records are available to LEOs. Joe and Jane average are encouraged to "report suspicious activity and things like this,12271,1536635,00.html happen. "New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has apologised to a group of British tourists after armed police swarmed on to an open-top sightseeing bus, handcuffed them and forced them to kneel on Broadway.
The five Sikh tourists from Birmingham were ordered off the bus on Sunday with their hands bound behind their backs after a tour company employee called police to report that they seemed suspicious."

Shooting to kill, to protect, is the wrong way to go

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Mark from Ireland said...

"I don't even think it was police. I think it might have been a Defence Ministry outfit untrained for urban combat in which the civilians of the scenario-->would be their own."

Sorry Nur but you're Completely wrong - they're Met officers. They have no military connections. The Met long ago (1980s) introduced a policy of weighting against former military in armed units for damned good reasons. The only Met unit where a military background is an advantage is the very obvious one, the bomb disposal unit.

In any event as is well known (over here at any rate) the truth is that who trained them are the Israelis a police force not exactly known for being reluctant to use excessive violence.

Nur have you any idea how many people it takes to stake out a location and or follow someone?

It takes 8 officers to follow someone and that's a minimum.

Depending on the number of entrances exits amount of cover etc it can take a hell of a lot of people to stake out a building. and this in a city where PRIOR to the second bombings there were hundreds of false alerts per day. Each of which had to be checked out. They simply don't have that number of police and thank goodness for that.

As to suspicious behaviour as you say it is relative. The jacket - London in midsummer is warm and very humid. Yes we now know that the unfortunate innocent was from Brazil. Yes we now know that he found even a summer London day chilly. Yes we now know that for him it was reasonable to wear a large bulky jacket. It was also reasonable for a policeman to be suspicious.

Unfortunately the officers concerned did not know what we now know. They knew their city had been bombed. They knew that the bombers were suicide bombers. They knew correctly that even a seriously wounded man can trigger a bomb and kill lots of people. The knew he ran.

There are lots and lots of questions to be answered. Mistakes were made including mistakes of assumptions - they need to be learnt from. But it is ludicrous to say things like "don't profile."

What in hell do you think I did when I was a peacekeeper? I bloody well profiled and there are people alive today because of it.

You cannot work on the basis of "beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt" - 'though that (rightly) is the standard to which you are held if you make a mistake. You have to work on the basis of probabilities. Or be prepared to live with knowing that people died because, for whatever reason, you didn't do your job properly. And it is as simple and crude and as bloody awful as that. There is nothing, nothing you can do in such circumstances that is "right" or "good" the only thing you can do is choose the "least bad". And you can't stop to think about it and weigh the consequences. The consequences of getting it wrong are lots of dead, lots of injured, and children waking up shrieking at night because the can't get out of their minds what it felt like to see their mum on the ground covered in blood. That is why you are trained to act very very quickly indeed.

And sometimes you get it wrong. And innocent people die. Killed by you - the person sworn to protect them. With the best will in the world and with the best counselling in the world. You'll still sometimes wake up sweating and crying 20 years after the event because you got it wrong and people died. Or because you got it wrong and you've had to go to your friend's wife and explain that you got it wrong. So your mate who joined the same day you did and your mate who fell in love with her and became her husband is dead and your sorry.

What an inadequate little word.

Based on what we know they behaved reasonably. it may be that we will learn more and that conclusion may change. But based on what we know they behaved reasonably.

It is monstrous and at the risk of saying somthing deeply offensive to somebody whose work I admire, you are being very typically American to say things like:

"deploys the military to the streets of London looking for persons unknown! Well, dang, that makes a hell of a lot of innocent people targets."

That statement is utterly false and is very inflammatory.

This is not the USA.

FYI I know of no European service man or officer be they in the military or the civil arms that does not regard the American habit of shooting first and asking questions a hell of a long time after if ever with profound contempt. That's a problem for you people to solve, not one to project onto us.

Yes the terrorists are murderers. Have you perhaps noticed that the British are treating it as a crime and not as your compatriot Winston heard "someone" say "a shooting war"

Yes Blair is, to put it kindly, remarkably similar in many ways to Chamberlain. Yes innocent people are dead because of that.

And yes I'm well aware Nur that you have the intellectual and moral courage to consistently argue that the solution is for the USA government to finally begin to at least emulate civilised behaviour. So I regret it greatly if you found some of what I've said unpleasant. But I don't apologise because what you said was way beneath you.

Let me turn now to some of what "Winston" has said:

"Somehow, things have gotten turned around to the point ...

Things have not somehow reached this deplorable point. The situation is as it is beause ordinary people like you - primarily the USA but also Western European ordinary people. Were perfectly willing to enjoy the fruits of a prosperity based on stealing resources. They didn't hear because they didn't want to hear. That their prosperity was based on putting in place and then propping up one savage and corrupt regime after another to keep the oil flowing cheaply. Because they didn't hear it they didn't hear that it was engendering rage, hatred, and despair.

They didn't hear and didn't want to hear. That reformers in the Middle East who wanted democracy were being murdered, tortured, raped, and "disappeared."

They were quite prepared to go along with "regime change" - exit Mossadegh. Enter SAVAK. Enter murder, rape, a regime that turns on its people. Ultimately enter Khomeini.

Suddenly ooooooh guess what we now have a thing called "political Islam" - bad bad Muslims. Lets find a dictator to start a war. Hey that guy in Iraq, whats his name? Oh yeah. Hussein will do it for us. "He may be a son of bitch but he's our son of a bitch."

Does that quotation sound familiar?

So what happened? What was predicted would happen, happened.

An ideology of hatred arose. That's what happened.

That's what happens when you treat people like dirt for generations. They start to hate you. And then they start to look at you and say "how do I kill as many of them as possible" to get them to leave my home. So they turn to murder. Dehumanise a human being and you can't be surprised if the human being dehumanises you.

Are you personally to blame for this? Are you culpable?

No of course not.

Are you responsible?

Yes you are. If you were prepared to accept the benefits. You have to be prepared to accept the consequences too.

Brutal behaviour has been committed in your name and in mine. Now we have to live with the consequences.

People over here have lived for a long time with anti terrorism measures. Some of us grew up with bodyguards, try doing that sometime, and then complain about "stop and search."

You'll be damned quick to apply hindsight the next time somebody dies.

At the heart of all of this is an abject refusal to accept that you and I are hated not because of our freedoms but because of what was done and continues to be done in our names.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Postman said...

This guy was under observation by allegedly trained POlice / secret Service people for 29 minutes . They formed the opinion that he was bomb carrying. They were 100% totally wrong.

WE now know that the Police thought the bombs were constructed in 6.25 litre buckets. WE now know that he was wearing (according to family) a denim jacket.

Show me how to hide a 6.25 litre bucket undera denim jacket.

...unless of course the MO changed again......

PS we have a new iconic imahge of a bomb in a bottle with Tacks surrounding it. A deadly terror bomb beautifully X rayed - 2 weeks after we found it.

bet on it.... you are going to see a lot more of this bottle bomb.

I don't know which agency thought that one up, but they know a good image when they see one.

I like the way all the nails have been artfully arranged your bomber would, knowing that the force of any explosion would send them any whichway.

You couldn't make it up.

But someone did.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous mark from ireland said...

PM - Yes I agree there opinion was 100% wrong. I agree that there have been all sorts of manifestly blatantly wrong statements made.

I agree that anybody who looks middle-eastern/mediterraenan/indian/pakistani/bangladeshi/muslim/(ánd in New York Sikh) now, unjustly and wrongly, has to live with the fact that a lot of people including police are going to look at them with suspicion and quite likely hostility and that steps are going to have be taken to prevent that. Ask any irish person who lived in the UK during some of the IRA bombing campaigns did they experience prejudice. Darned right they did.

There's always a backlash and who gets lashed are the innocent just as who gets killed are the innocent.

What I'm saying is that under the circumstances given the (wrong) information they had those particular police acted reasonably. Not necessarily rightly. Reasonably.

Bottle bombs are easy to make especially if you don't have a lot of explosive.

Question: Why did the IRA and related groups not use bottle/nail bombs.

Answer: Because they had access to semtex which is so powerful they didn't need to use nail bombs.

Question: Why did the loyalist terrorist groups use bottle bombs and nail bombs.

Answer: Because they did NOT have access to semtex. They had access to homemade explosives. Generally the ones made from 10-10-20 which isn't powerful. So to maximise efficiency they added in shrapnel. Nails, ball-bearings, and when they could get their hands on them small cubes of metal.

Question: Did both groups regularly change MO.

Answer: Yup.

Question: Why did both groups regularly change MO.

Answer: To lessen the chances of being caught. "Murderer" is not synonymous with "Stupid" anymore than "Muslim" is synonymous with "[insert favourite slur here]"

5:20 PM  
Anonymous mark from ireland said...

PS: PM - compliments on your blog.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Wow! I never hit 15 comments before nor have I been so taken to task by a certain Irishman.

8:51 PM  
Blogger sgo said...

Pushed to the floor and shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

That is OVERKILL and reeks of a revenge killing. The cops wanted payback fr the bombings.

I wouldn't call it an execution but rather a Hate Crime.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Thank you, SGO. A lot of people lost their heads. Damned right it's overkill.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous mark from ireland said...

"Hate crime" "revenge killing" "darned right"

I give up.

If either of you are ever called for jury duty for anything. Just show the defense team these postings and you'll be excused for life.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

mark, are you sure you don't mean prosecution? I think defense wouldn't have a problem.

I'm happy to report that we're seeing good police work: haul them away and book'em without the Die Hard hijinx.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Mark from Ireland said...

"Nur-al-Cubicle said...
mark, are you sure you don't mean prosecution? I think defense wouldn't have a problem.

I'm happy to report that we're seeing good police work: haul them away and book'em without the Die Hard hijinx.

9:10 PM "

Nur are you seriously trying to tell me that you don't realise that those police are now the subject of a criminal investigation? Specifically a homicide investigation.

Such an investigation is required by law whenever a policeman kills. Not an internal enquiry, not a disciplinary enquiry, a murder enquiry.

"Defense" I said and defense I meant.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

okay. I acquiesce. I'll shut up. I know nothing! My moment of dismissal from the jury pool awaits.

btw-->SAS said to have killed Brazilian:

15:51 Londra: brasiliano ucciso forse da militari

LONDRA - Forse non e' stato un poliziotto dal grilletto facile, ma un uomo delle forze speciali britanniche, le Sas dell'esercito, a uccidere Jean Charles de Menezes, il giovane brasiliano scambiato per un terrorista e freddato con diversi colpi di fucile nella metropolitana di Stockwell, a Londra. Lo sostiene il settimanale britannico Sunday Times. Il ministero della Difes ha ammesso che l'esercito ha collaborato con la polizia nell'operazione che ha portato all'omicidio di Menezes. In base alle foto scattate dai reporter, gli uomini che hanno sparato avevano armi in dotazione solo alle Sas, addestrati a non lasciare mai in vita un sospetto. (Agr)

7:05 PM  

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