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More bad news from London

July 24th, 2005

The news that the man shot dead by police in a London station was not connected with the terror attacks is very disturbing to me. It’s too early to draw any conclusions about whether the police acted properly, but there’s no doubt that, however it happened, this was a win for the terrorists, who have claimed another innocent victim. As the name implies, the main point of terrorism is to create fear, and a situation where people are afraid of the police who are supposed to be protecting them is far worse than anything that can be created by the small risk of being in the wrong place when a bomb goes off.

Terrorism is essentially a criminal activity, and the only way to beat it in the long run is through effective police work. The terrorists of the radical left and right who operated in the 1970s and 1980s were beaten in the end, and the same will be true of the jihadists. But so far at least, the response to the London attacks seems to have more failures than successes. Let’s hope there’s better news soon.

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  1. July 26th, 2005 at 09:53 | #1

    I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was those who reckon that those charged with protecting us must always surrender their lives if a choice has to be made, were the ones offering their lives. Of course they never are.

    I wouldn’t mind people dismissing the deaths of strangers as “collateral damage” so much if they were willing to think of the sacrifice of one of their own family in such an insouciant way. Of course they never do.

  2. July 26th, 2005 at 11:19 | #2

    As far as I can tell, the only claim that Menendez was an illegal immigrant came in one account from the Telegraph. So that probably doesn’t explain his behaviour.

    I wouldn’t be too hasty about blaming him for running.

    It does seem he was followed around for some time, even onto a bus, by plainclothes police who think he hadn’t noticed them. He stopped to buy a ticket, was frightened by something, and vaulted the barrier..

    I think if I realised I was being followed around for some time by large people, I might get spooked too. And if I came from a South American country run by drug barons where the police do behave like an invading army, I might get spooked even faster.

    It fits a standard explanation, after all, in the way migrant communities in Australia deal with the police. They see the interaction through their own experience of a police state.

    It is also pretty common for people from tropical countries to wear more clothes in a temperate climate than the average European.

    The shooting is apparently standard Israeli practice – five bullets to the head, as fast as possible. So the policeman was not out of control.

  3. July 26th, 2005 at 11:52 | #3

    Katz, in another post you chide Ros by stating: “Ros, when are you going to start readin (sic) for meaning?”

    Glass houses sunshine!

    I never brought Howard into the debate you did!

    For the record, (not that it matters a great deal), I am not a Howard apologist. What does that mean anyway?

  4. Katz
    July 26th, 2005 at 12:05 | #4

    But Elizabeth. Howard represents our nation in the affairs of the world.

    For better or for worse our interests are bound up in how he chooses to represent us.

    I am interested (genuinely interested) in how a supporter of an interventionist policy in Iraq and elsewhere in pursuit of the GWOT distinguishes her rationale for doing so from the official interventionist policy of her government.

    Just trying to turn a lot of heat into a bit of light, Elizabeth.

  5. July 26th, 2005 at 12:10 | #5

    I slipped a gear for a moment on my South American countries – I was thinking of Colombia when I talked about drug barons, and Menezes is Brazilian. General point still holds though.

  6. July 26th, 2005 at 12:14 | #6

    SJ Says: July 25th, 2005 at 9:52 pm

    I’m sure you meant that criminal law should be used to punish the guilty. Where’d this “repression� thing come from?

    The official repression of terrorist organizations is already law of the land. The US State Department and DFAT maintain an index of proscribed terrorist organizations, of which Al Quaeda heads the list. These martial-political organizations are officially repressed by the state, whatever actions their members undertake. That is what I mean by “political repression” of terrorism.

    Criminal law is used to constrain crime which means deterring the potentially guilty and punish the actually guilty. Overt terrorist activity is political crime so it should be constrained by either criminal or martial means – whatever works best.

    Islamic sectarianism is fundamentally a political problem – the inablility of Islamic political agents to achieve nation state citizenship – either collectively in their native homeland or individually in their adoptive emigre land.

    Western foreign policy can promote civlity in unsettled Islamic polities seeking nation statehood of their own, as done by multilateral democracy promotion by Rubin-Howard in INDON. And Western cultural policy can promote civility in unsettled Islamic persons seeking residency in our nation, as occurred during the integrationist phase of migrant settlement policy (1966-74).

    Unfortunately Hawks have stuffed up a civilizing foreign policy with their unilateral militancy and Wets have stuffed up a civilizing cultural policy with their multicultural seperatism.

    Pr Q’s circumspection of anti-terrorist actions to purely police work is far too narrow. This implies that military counter-espionage and counter-terrorist organizations have no formal role to play is suppressing or repressing terrorist activity.

    This would lay the state and civil society open to attack from terrorist cells operating outside the sovereign borders of AUS, in failed or rogue states. Thus, under Pr Q’s ordinance, Western military forces – misiles and commandos – would have been forbidden to attack Al Quaeda operatives in Afghanistan (1998) and Yemen (2002).

    These organizations and their personnel would then have been been freer to carry on their planning and training of mass casualty atrocities unmolested by those military forces most capable of destroying or disabling them. That is clearly unacceptable, especially in an age of cheap, potent and portable WMDs which could incinerate or contaminate whole cities.

  7. Katz
    July 26th, 2005 at 12:31 | #7

    “Unfortunately Hawks have stuffed up a civilizing foreign policy with their unilateral militancy and Wets have stuffed up a civilizing cultural policy with their multicultural seperatism.”

    This is a very fair summary of the situation.

    It is important to note as an extension of this insight, that the largest and most expensive military adventure in prosecution of the so-called GWOT has happened in Iraq. The day “shock and awe” was unleashed over Baghdad, Iraq was secular tyranny which persecuted Islamism.

  8. July 26th, 2005 at 12:52 | #8

    Katz Says: July 25th, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    The argument is about how best to eradicate this threat…(FWIW, believe that option 2 is the most accurate statement and that careful handling is required to prevent the situation from becoming more like option 3.)

    2. The terrorists are capable of arousing significant popular support in Britain if the threat they pose is handled clumsily and/or brutally.

    3. The terrorists already have significant popular support in Britain who thus pose a difficult and long term threat.

    Can any sane Wet (or just sane person) explain to this little black duck how Islamic persons immigrating to Western states have, over the past few years, become an actual or potental terrorist threat akin to a fifth column?

    According the theory of multiculturalism these people should have been especially happy to be in their new land since they could enjoy their ancient theology whilst exploiting our modern technology. Whilst we would be especially happy with their settlement as we would enjoy their multi-cultural diversity whilst exploiting their cheap labour.

    Something seems to have gone wrong with the settlement plan if whole ethnic groups are now under suspicion and being treated with extreme caution as if they were volatile explosives (actually this metaphor is a little to close to the literal truth!). It cannot be, pace Robert Pape, that the West has invaded their homeland since their homeland is now the West.

    How can it be that terrorists “already have significant popular support” or are capable of “arousing significant popular support” in the West “if the threat they pose is handled clumsily and/or brutally”. Citizens, whether native or adoptive, should be automaticly loyal to the nation state and its democraticly validated laws.

    Why do we need to treat terrorist criminals and their sectarian enablers with kid gloves in order to appease a special class of the very citizens who they are threatening? The Wets have some serious explaining to do.

  9. Katz
    July 26th, 2005 at 13:35 | #9

    Jack, you seem to be subject to some weird fixations.

    One them is that I am one of your dreaded “Wets”

    FWIW I would describe myself as a left libertarian.

    I believe in secularism, free speech, freedom of association, minimal government.

    I don’t believe in affirmative action, quotas, special laws for minority groups, any impediment to freedom of expression such as laws against racial or religious vilification.

    Recently I misrepresented your position on an issue. I retracted.

    Still more recently, I demonstrated that you misrepresented me on an issue. I’m still waiting for a retraction. But I can live without it.

    To the issue of your most recent post.

    I too believe that care should be taken in the issue of the way in which immigrant groups relate to their host cultures. This issue has been mishandled in many western societies. And now we have to deal with the consequences.

    To recognise difficulties, contrary to your implication, is not the same as endorsing them. As you say:

    “Citizens, whether native or adoptive, should be automaticly loyal to the nation state and its democraticly validated laws.”

    This would be a welcome state of affairs. And it still may happen. But there is often an enormous gulf between “should” and “could”. Stupid policy, as you say in an earlier post, can make that gulf wider.

    And to put the current potential problem in Britain in context, there are about as many Muslims in Britain as there are Catholics in Northern Ireland. And the figure is growing rapidly owing to high birth rates.

    This situation calls for intelligence and caution.

  10. July 26th, 2005 at 13:56 | #10

    Pr Q writes:

    As the name implies, the main point of terrorism is to create fear, and a situation where people are afraid of the police who are supposed to be protecting them is far worse than anything that can be created by the small risk of being in the wrong place when a bomb goes off.

    It is implausible that the current risk of security overkill harming Anglosphere-domiciled Muslims is “far worse” than the real possibility that security underkill has increased the risk of an Anglosphere citizen being killed by Islamist terrorists. Anglsphere-domiciled Muslim people can have very little to complain about the Global War on Terrorism, as it has been waged on Western soil, so far as respect for their own persons is concerned.

    The 911 atrocities were made easier to commit by ineffective and politically constrained policing, since Republicans were courting the Arab vote in the US. Thus do ethnic lobbies constantly get up to mischief behind the populuses back.

    I would like to see Pr Q’s “back of the envelope calculations” for his gob-smacking surmise of this risk management problem. My envelope’s backside reveals a quite different result.

    Since the beginning of this decade Islamist terrrorists, whether homegrown or foreign sourced, have murdered or severely injured ~4,000 persons in Anglosphere states. That is, Anglospheric natives have a ~1 per 1 million chance per decade (projected out of a population of ~400 million held constant over the decade) of being a murdered or killed by Islamist terrorists.

    On the other side of the equation it is evident that a very small proportion of Anglosphere-domiciled Muslims have been subject to any outrages by our states. I estimate that about ~25 Anglsosphere-domiciled Muslims have been the victim of proven cases of security malfeasance – mostly troublemakers, like Habib, experiencing a bit of gratuitous argy-bargy in Gitmo. That is, Anglsosphere-domiciled Muslims have a ~1 per 1 million chance per decade (projected out of a total population of ~5 million held constant over the decade) of being unfairly and brutally treated by our state security.

    Thus the the odds of an Islamist militant murdering an innocent Western civilian are about the same as the odds of an innocent Muslim denominee in the West being hurt by a malovolent Western security agency. That is still too much security malfeasance, since we should have much better standards than terrorists.

    The risk of security agencies inflicting collateral damage on Anglosphere domiciled Muslims would, of course, be far less if the Wets had not encouraged multicultural seperatism over the past generation. It appears that this generations Anglosphere Muslim residents are more radical than the past generation.

  11. Katz
    July 26th, 2005 at 14:58 | #11

    I’ve checked my facts on population figures.

    The following is more accurate than I estimated above:

    500,000 Catholics in Northern Ireland.

    2,000,000 Muslims in Britain.

  12. Katz
    July 29th, 2005 at 08:28 | #12

    In the light of the declaration of the IRA to abandon armed struggle, I wish to resurrect this post to suggest that it is important to recognise that the use of terrorist tactics isn’t in itself an indication of nihilism or irrationality. As I suggested above:

    “2. [In Northern Ireland] [t]he [British] authorities overreact and create unnecessary enemies. The history of the troubles in Ireland is telling in this regard. When the IRA reformed in the 1970s in the wake of Bloody Sunday and other examples of police and Army terrorism, the majority of the Catholic population supported the moderate Social Democratic Labour Party. In the succeeding 30 years the IRA provoked an overreaction from British authorities. In response, Catholic voters in Ulster have thrown their support behind Sinn Fein. The SDLP has more or less disappeared as an effective political force. This is precisely the opposite of what British authorities wanted to happen.”

    The IRA has succeeded in politicising a large part of the Ulster Catholic community. Now their work is done and politics can go on by other means toward a future that was unimaginable in 1968 when the troubles started.

  13. jquiggin
    July 29th, 2005 at 08:35 | #13

    I disagree, at least with your last sentence Katz. Nothing has been achieved now, that could not have been obtained from the Sunningdale agreement in 1973. Both sides suffered from their excessive willingness to resort to force.

  14. Katz
    July 29th, 2005 at 08:50 | #14

    Sinn Fein was a marginalised political force in 1973. The SDLP had no ambitions for breaking up Great Britain. Sin Fein does.

  15. Katz
    July 29th, 2005 at 08:51 | #15

    Sinn Fein was a marginalised political force in 1973 in Ulster. The SDLP had no ambitions for breaking up Great Britain. Sinn Fein does.

    Perhaps something like Sinn Fein may have arisen out of Sunningdale. Now we’ll never know.

  16. Katz
    July 29th, 2005 at 08:52 | #16

    [Sorry about that double post.]

  17. jquiggin
    July 29th, 2005 at 10:41 | #17

    ‘The SDLP had no ambitions for breaking up Great Britain. Sinn Fein does.”

    This is incorrect. The SDLP is a nationalist party supporting peaceful reunification, which appears to be the position Sinn Fein has now adopted.

  18. Katz
    July 29th, 2005 at 10:54 | #18

    Partly a semantic issue JQ.

    The Mensheviks had hopes for communism in Russia.

    The Bolsheviks had ambitions for communism in Russia.

    The SDLP are the Mensheviks of Ulster. Sinn Fein are the Bolsheviks.

    The Sunningdale Agreement was destroyed by communal obstructionism. The IRA contributed to the violence that ended it.

    But IRA violence gained political credibility in Catholic Ulster when Nationalists perceived that the British authorities were, in effect, conspiring with Unionist forces.

  19. Dave Ricardo
    July 29th, 2005 at 11:59 | #19

    Back to London – the commissioner of the metropolitan police, Sir Ian Blair, has condemned the west midlands police for using a stun gun to subdue the (probable) terrorist they arrested the other day. According to Sir Ian, they should have killed him.

    It must be embarrassing for the metropolitan police when they put seven bullets into the head of a man who had no connection whatever with terrorism and who was just innocently going to work, when their colleagues in Birmingham manage to apprehend an actual terrorist without causing him any physical harm (or not much anyway).

  20. July 29th, 2005 at 12:15 | #20

    Dave Ricardo Says:

    July 29th, 2005 at 11:59 am
    Back to London – the commissioner of the metropolitan police, Sir Ian Blair, has condemned the west midlands police for using a stun gun to subdue the (probable) terrorist they arrested the other day. According to Sir Ian, they should have killed him.

    perhaps, since this character will probably soon be surrounded by opportunistic (ambulance chasers) and other victim industry consultants claiming profusely that by using the electric constraint it was barbaric and state sponsored torture.

  21. derrida derider
    July 29th, 2005 at 14:24 | #21

    Some people just horrify me – Ian Blair is clearly one of them. Elizabeth is another. Tell me, Elizabeth, if the suspected terrorist turns out to be innocent will you still think it better he had been shot? And how do you know he isn’t innocent? And, BTW, if the man is guilty and had been shot out of hand, how do you think the next terrorist cornered by the police is going to act?

    Those ‘victim industry consultants’ are absolutely necessary to deter people like Blair.

    As dsquared pointed out, given that real terrorists are such a tiny proportion of possible suspects then simple Bayesian reasoning suggests a shoot-to-kill policy is going to kill more innocents than terrorists, even if the error rate by the police is low.

  22. July 29th, 2005 at 14:46 | #22

    Derrida – the point is that the police must operate on a balance of probabilities concerning terrrorists and their intentions.

    Take the scenario of the police being confronted in a packed tube station, with a suicide bomber, fully armed and set to ‘pop’.

    Do you imagine the terrorist will think: “oh blimey! I’m nicked. I will just surrender without detonating my nail bombs!”

    Derrida, naive people like you scare me!

  23. what the
    July 29th, 2005 at 15:35 | #23

    i thought the criticism from the police chief had been that an electrical impulse from the taser might set off a bomb, not that he ought to have been killed with a different weapon.

  24. Dave Ricardo
    July 29th, 2005 at 16:14 | #24

    The policy of the London police is that suspected suicide bombers must be killed by shooting them in the head, lest they let off the bomb. (If you shoot them in the legs, they could detomate the bomb. If you shoot them in the chest, the bullet could detonate the bomb.) They have apparently learnt this from the Israeli authorities, who are very experienced at dealing with suicide bombers.

    This was why the police pumped seven bullets from point blank range into the head of Mr De Menezes, even though he was on the ground, facing down with his arms speadeagled and with a policeman on his back.

    So , yes, the taser might have set off a bomb. Perhaps the west midlands police figured that even terrorists don’t go walking around at home with bombs strapped to their chests. Mind you, even the terrorists who did let the bombs off didn’t have them strapped to their chests. They had them in their bags.

  25. July 30th, 2005 at 18:08 | #25

    .

  26. Katz
    August 19th, 2005 at 11:55 | #26

    Official update on Sr Menezes:

    The police now claim that Sr Menezes was fired at 11 times. Three bullet missed. Go figure.

    The police now admit that he wasn’t running away. He was sitting in a seat. And the police now acknowledge that he didn’t wear a dangerous suicide-bomber-style puffy jacket.

    However, they refuse to resile from the fact that Sr Menezes was swarthy.

  27. August 19th, 2005 at 14:19 | #27

    If you shoot a hand gun that many times in rapid sequence, it is quite likely to miss a few times because the gun will pull. Whether it is sound advice to fire that often or not depends on a number of things; in general, it increases the odds of a rapid kill (what counts is the number of hits, not misses).

    But it quite clearly endangered the life of the policeman who was pinioning the victim at the time. This should have been taken into consideration.

    As for swarthiness, it is quite clear that, while wilfully being a foreigner might not seem grounds for immediate violent steps, nevertheless it does show that the vast majority would not have been at any risk from the police in similar circumstances.

    By the way, how many people not only recognise irony, but also recognise that – like much humour – it rests on a strong basis in actual fact?

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