Friday, August 05, 2005

The dirty war in London

As we learn a little more about the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes, it is becoming clearer that this was a military operation, involving a special unit set up, in April, to combat terrorism, which included members that were trained by the SAS (see comment 2 here, and the speculations here). This was their first live operation. Sources said there was "no direct military involvement in the shooting". Was there indirect military involvement? Or was the military involvement, strictly speaking, not in the shooting itself? The distinction being made is that the new unit was just involved in intelligence, and were perhaps just the guys who screwed up in tagging an innocent man as a terrorist, while it was a police unit that did the actual 'wet work'. Jean Charles de Menezes was followed onto the bus with several plainclothes officers (who at that time apparently weren't worried about a bomb). Defense sources refused to comment on suggestions that these officers may have been members of the new special unit. Why would defense sources have to comment on it?

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) had produced guidelines on July 8 recommending that suicide bombers be shot in the head. Since Jean Charles de Menezes obviously wasn't a suicide bomber, but had managed to fall under the surveillance of a paramilitary unit who may have been in charge of directing police actions, the obvious question is whether they marked him as a target for police shooting because the British military wanted to set a precedent establishing the IACP guidelines as being in full force in Britain. Pick a patsy, have the police shoot him in the head, and suddenly you've recreated in London the good old days of Northern Ireland. I don't think the British people want to see paramilitary operations from the dirty war in Ireland imported by their military into downtown London.