British police kill Brazilian in bomb probe blunder
By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) – British police hunting London bombers
admitted killing a Brazilian electrician by mistake — a
blunder that dealt a blow to their efforts to track down
militants they fear could strike again.
In another dramatic twist to the massive manhunt, police
believe they may have established links between the teams of
bombers who struck London twice.
Police hunting four men who tried to bomb London’s
transport system chased and shot dead a man on Friday who had
been under surveillance and refused orders to halt.
Thursday’s attempted attacks came two weeks after four
suicide bombers killed 52 commuters in similar attacks.
Police expressed regret for the tragedy and named the
innocent victim as Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old
electrician who had been living in London for three years.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim demanded
clarification from Britain about the shooting.
The victim’s cousin, Lady Menezes, said: “It’s an
injustice, something needs to be done.”
Security experts said police had clearly adopted a
“shoot-to-kill” policy in confronting suspected bombers.
Anti-terrorism expert Robert Ayers of the Royal Institute
of International Affairs said police have “demonstrated that
they are operating on the premise right now that if they
suspect that someone is a bomber, and that the public is going
to be endangered by him, they have shoot-to-kill orders.”
Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission
said the killing was a direct consequence of British police
officers being sent to Israel to receive training on how to
prevent suicide bombings.
“To give license to people to shoot to kill just like that,
on the basis of suspicion, is very frightening,” Azzam Tamimi
of the Muslim Association of Britain said.
But former London police chief John Stevens defended the
“I sent teams to Israel and other countries hit by suicide
bombers where we learned a terrible truth,” he wrote in the
News of the World.
“There is only one sure way to stop a suicide bomber
determined to fulfil his mission — destroy his brain
instantly, utterly. That means shooting him with devastating
power in the head, killing him immediately.”
In one of the biggest police probes in British criminal
history, security sources indicated there could be links
between the two London attacks.
The sources, cited by British media, said two of the July 7
bombers attended a whitewater rafting trip at the same center
in Wales as some of the July 21 bombers.
This was based on evidence discovered in rucksacks left
behind by the failed bombers. Detectives believe the trip could
have been used as a bonding exercise.
The Abu Hafs al Masri Brigade, an al Qaeda-linked group,
has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s bombing attempts and
those of July 7, but the group’s claims of responsibility for
previous attacks in Europe have been discredited by security
London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone argued that terrorism was an
international scourge that could strike anywhere and he was
dismissive of the decision by Italian soccer club Inter Milan
to cancel a pre-season tour of England.
“I think that it is a very silly thing to do because it is
playing the terrorists’ game. They want to change the way we
live. The terrorists, I am sure, will be celebrating their
decision,” he said.