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A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.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).

Sunday, July 24, 2005


That little gem is from a character named Lord Stevens.

Let us frame things: Mr. Menezes was pinned, immobilized, to the ground by ununiformed police.

My town is famous for justifying murder by police. Last week our local police shot dead a 13 year old girl (black, of course) for "menacing" them with a can of spray paint. An acquaintance of mine remarked that town police use more deadly force than that permitted to the US miltary. That's saying something! Unnecessary force coupled with the perverse attitude of absolving the police from inappropriate conduct and action has its champions in Britain, too:

London Mayor Ken Livingstone absolves police: This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility.

Glen Smyth: Police officers in these circumstances are expected to make split-second decisions that have life-long consequences.

Home Office washes its hands: It was an operational matter for the police.

As to the police work required to nab suicide bombers, these people don't just get up in the morning and say, Gee it's a great day to bomb the London Underground. I think I'll get that suicide vest out of the basement! No, no, no! They discuss. They plan. They use stealth. Their plot evolves incrementally, over months and sometimes years. What is needed is human intelligence--within the community. Not a gang of cops in scruffy plain clothes from the suburbs profiling dark-skinned urban men attired in baggy outfits and then shooting them in the head point-blank--a nice little recommended tactic from Israel and a convenient endrun around Britain's long-standing legal tradition of habeas corpus.

Update: Did Tony Blair really say this? "Our men will continue, if necessary, to shoot suicide bombers, aiming for the head. But, shooting them in another part of the body is okay too, if it keeps them from carrying out their deadly mission." What kind of dumbass micromanaging is that? The point is, the headshot is Israeli operating procedure adopted by Operation Kratos allegedly used to prevent a suicide bomber from detonating his payload. (Not that it has ever been very successful). I should like to inform Mr. Blair that the error is the hysterical, profiled, and circumstantial grounds on which deadly force is used.


Blogger raf* said...

imagine this:

you live in london. you have lived in london for 3 years. two weeks ago there were suicide bomb attacks in the tube & on a bus. just yesterday (thursday 21 july 2005) there were attempts to do a repeat attack (3 on the tube, 1 on a bus). you leave your house and go to the tube. some men yell at you "police! stop!"...

see, this is the moment where you SHOULD: stop. wait for them to catch up with you. follow their orders. not make any rash movements. let them identify you. if they ask you to, then come with them to the police station. let them examine your passport. do what they say & cooperate with the police.


- run from people saying they're police
- run towards the tube
- jump a turnstyle
- keep running towards a train
- think "i can outrun them & hop on a train & then i'll be gone"

i am sorry for the family of the brazilian guy. but he acted stupidly on so many levels that it boggles my mind...

1. regardless when & where -- in europe you don't have to run from the police. after 3 years in london he should know that london is NOT like the favelas in brazil
2. a day after a terrorist attack you DON'T do anything suspicious in a tube.
3. if you haven't done anything wrong - why run? do people get arrested falsely? yes, sure they do. it happened to me, it happened & happens to others. police aren't omnitient. so what? you get stopped, they'll ask you to identify yourself, they may even take you to the station. big fucking deal.

as a citizen and/or resident you COOPERATE with the police. you answer their questions. you are nice to them - they are nice to you. had the brazilian followed the orders of the police - stopped - they probably would've ordered him to stay calm, not move, and then made sure he doesn't have any explosives on him. THEN they would've taken his personal info & questioned him on his role in the house they were observing and any tenants & possible suspicious activities. THEN they would've thanked him for his help & asked for his understanding of their harsh measures which are rooted in the previous terror attacks.

the police chief might've even commended him on tv for his understanding and cooperation, quite probably citing him as "an example of the good relationship between the residents and police of greater london".


long story short: a day after a bomb attack - DON'T RUN FROM THE POLICE.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Sorry, but the police were wearing ragged plain clothes and brandishing revolvers. How was he to know they were police?

Futhermore, once he was effectively stopped and pinned to the ground, he was executed! Five shots to the head, a point-blank range! Think about that! That can't be right!

6:45 AM  
Blogger raf* said...

ya nur,

the police were yelling "police!!! stop!!!"...

and as for the 5 bullets - as horrible as it seems to us, there isn't much you can do in the case of a suicide bomber: the bomb is set off either by pressing a switch or letting go of one. the only way to prevent the explosion from happening is to "freeze" the situation. which you do by killing the person as quickly as possible. headshots are the quickest way. also, shooting in the torso might result in hitting the explosives/trigger & thus detonate the bomb(s). 5 shots might have been more than enough, but please take into account the fact that british police are not used to using firearms and may very well have been agitated - after a(nother) day of bombs and in hot pursuit of what they had to assume was a wanna-be suicide bomber. they operated on the "better safe than sorry" principle. and 5 bullets are surer to kill someone than 2.

also - as there are next to no armed criminals in the u.k., if 20 (not 3) people are running after you brandishing weapons they very definitely are police.

it's all truly horrible. and i am sorry for the guy & his family and all...

c'est la guerre. doesn't mean: oh well, such is war... but: this is a WAR we're in. and WAR is horrible. unspeakably so...

just imagine the opposite scenario:

suspect is pursued by police, is pinned down, police want to handcuff suspect, and then BANG!!! - bomb goes off, 22 dead (incl. 3 police officers having tried to overwhelm suspect with NONLETHAL force) 40 injured -- asked why the london police is not allowed to shoot suicide bombers, chief of metropolitan police says: "that's inhumane". i'll leave it up to you to imagine the reactions of the bri'ish public...

would YOU explain the "don't ever shoot" policy to the families of the bomb victims afterwards?

personally, i am glad i wasn't one of those police officers. and i do understand (& share) your sentiment.

sometimes i wish the cold war back - life seems to have been so much easier then...

7:19 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

I must add a few more details.

Having live in New York City, I would say that the turnstile-jumping maneuvre is commonplace. I've seen it hundreds of times. New York cops and transit police are armed but seldom perform a public execution based on suspicion aroused by turnstile-jumping.

Second, it is a tradition that British police, at least in London, rarely, if ever, use revolvers. There may be as few as 8 cases of British police firing a weapon per year thoughout the whole country. The world believes that the London policeman is unarmed AND in uniform. Why should the poor Brazilian believe that these gun-toting shabby plainclothesmen were police?

If he hadn't been watching TV, is there a chance he wouldn't have known about the emergency of 21 July? Is he guilty by failing to read The Mirror headlines?

I grant that he ~~may~~ have purchased an illegal drug, and preferred to flee than face arrest, legal fees, loss of job, etc. Many unpragmatic people would react in this way. But this is not a capital offense requiring summary execution on the scene of arrest to my knowledge.

Would you agree that the Brazilian deserved to know that the house he visited was under surveillance by armed police and that by his very presence there he risked his life? Do you think that with this knowledge he would have behaved differently?

Last, your argument is what we call, "blaming the victim". This was commonly done to rape victims: misogynists would promptly claim that their gender and attire provoked the crime.

London is the capital of the world. No one wants to see violence done there. I hope the cells spawning the bombings will be broken up. It is a very difficult task. In the meantime, no one wants to see public executions based on profiling.

Where is the vaunted discipline of the British people? Why are they giving into hysteria and rash acts? We expected better of them, of all people.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

And thanks for your visit and thought-provoking comments, Ashraf.

The sum total of secret surveillance of unwitting third parties, coupled with gunplay among dozens of tube travellers in a city of millions and ending with execution on suspicion is hysterial behavior. Clearly, the authorities have panicked and have no idea how to respond.

In NYC, how are you going to "randomly check" 4.7 million daily subway travellers? You cannot--it's Public Relations stunt. I fear that stakeouts in Brixton and Stockwell are stunts as well--and fatally flawed.

7:51 AM  

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