"the best post on the subject [of the Stockwell shooting] so far and I agree. A must read." - Tim Worstall, August 21, 2005

"Chris at Optimus In Omnis wrote a thoughtful post in July...his more recent post describes the edginess many Londoners feel" - BBC News Online, August 22, 2005

Sunday, July 24, 2005

This time the decision was wrong, but there will be a time when it is right

Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year old electrician orginally from the slums of Brazil, is the latest victim of the terrorist atrocities that have plagued London over the past two-and-a-half weeks; he was, however, not killed by a bomb. Instead, in a case of mistaken identity, three plain-clothed police officers hunted him down and killed him with five gunshots to the head.

While undoubtedly the police are partly to blame for this terrible faux-pas, one must also ask why exactly Menezes ran from officers when challenged. Some believe because of his upbringing in the state of Minas Gerais, Menezes had become wary of anyone wielding a gun, believing that because of their casual clothes that they may have been criminals; others say that he may have thought he was part of another attack on the London Underground, and fled in fear, trying to avoid the merciless killing that would have ensued.

Of course, this terrible killing of an innocent man will only add further fuel to the fire that is the 'us vs. them' mentality that is in the minds of many British muslims, already concerned about the imposing of a police affidavit that any suspicious people with possible connections to terrorism must be 'shot to kill.' The terrorist groups already in Britain, planning their next foray into the realm of destruction, will now only be further enraged that a whole religion has been seemingly pigeon-holed, and there will surely be recompense for the Metropolitan police's actions which will be more vicious than even before. Those who sit on the fence, especially young Muslims, disappointed by the fact that their society as a whole has been painted as one which harbours bringers of grief and death secretly, may very well be pushed over the edge towards the side of extremists, and side with the cause of the jihad that a select few are waging against our people on our shores.

There was, however, no other way that the police could have handled the situation. This man was seen coming from a suspected terrorist haven, wearing unusual clothing and acting in a most suspicious manner. If Menezes was indeed a terrorist, and beneath his blue jacket was a pack of explosives, with yet more 'mother of Satan' languishing in a bathtub in the London flat which he came from, waiting for another extremist willing to give his life to his cause, there would have been an uproar that a third attack had been allowed to go ahead. The police would have come under severe scrutiny for their oversight in observing these suspects.

Sadly, there is no right or wrong way to handle situations of this kind - the police must be praised for their assurance that this man was a threat to society, but, by the same token, they must be admonished for killing an innocent man based on completely incorrect surveillance information. 'Suspicion' is not a word that can be used when dealing with a threat such as this: a decision must be made, and it must be made quickly. Unfortunately, this time it was the wrong one. There may come a time in the near future when a decision like this needs to be made again, and this time, turns out to be made correctly.

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