If you’ve read the first part of this series of articles, you’ll see where I think terrorism stems from and the reason why at this rate, it WILL NOT STOP. If not, that article is here. Continuing on, I’d like to discuss the recent terrorist acts in London, England.
Much like my experience with September 11, 2001, I remember my first knowledge of the bombings in London with surprising clarity. That July 7th Thursday morning I woke up and proceeded to turn on my laptop. I started browsing through my routine list of sites; this morning I decided to check out the state of the stock markets. Surprisingly, the headline article was not about an earnings report or a merger. Instead it read something like Explosions in London Sends Jitters through Markets. I could not believe my eyes. I clicked in and started reading. The first reports were of perhaps a power grid explosion in the subways system. However there was also talk of a destroyed bus. It was a very confusing article that sounded like no one really knew what was happening.
As the day wore on, it became apparent that this was no accident. It looked an awful lot like terrorist activities. Sure enough, traces of explosives were found in the various affected areas. Casualty numbers started off relatively low but quickly grew as the bombed sites were reached and inspected. In all, 56 people have lost their lives with many still missing. Over 700 have been reported injured. This was the deadliest bombing in London since World War II and the worst single terrorist act in the UK since the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing.
The city of London and all of the United Kingdom has been on edge ever since the bombings and with good reason. On July 21st, exactly two weeks after the original bombings, another bombing was attempted with surprising similarity to the first ones. Fortunately, there was only one injury and no fatalities. The bombs failed to go off; only the detonators did. Ever since the first bombings, police have stepped up security in the capital region. Special task groups have been on the lookout for suspicious persons as well as performing raids on possible terrorists hideouts. One of the largest investigations in British history is currently underway.
However, there are problems present that are, I believe, more dangerous than these terrorist acts. Much like what happened in the United States after the September 11th attacks, there is widespread fear in the community that there will be backlashes against the innocent, specifically against Muslims. Despite the reassuring words of Prime Minister Tony Blair and speeches issuing from Scotland Yard, there must be an awful lot of paranoid people. More than likely people who are willing to call in a person as suspicious who, well isn’t all that suspicious. Everyone is on edge for another possible attack. This is what the terrorists want. They want us to change our lifestyles, to suspect each other. We’re destroying our own society and way of life more thoroughly than any bombs could. And who are the resultant casualties? The segregated communities, like the Muslims, and people like Jean Charles de Menezes.
Jean Charles de Menezes, Brazilian, was shot in the London subway station on July 22nd, just one day after the attempted bombings. He was seen leaving a building that was under surveillance and was wearing a large coat. He was pursued into the subway and did not stop when ordered to by the police. He was then rammed to the ground and shot in the head five times at point blank range. Needless to say, he was killed. Sounds like the right thing to do considering the circumstances when you take it at face value no? Unfortunately, this is what the police had to say about the incident: ‘We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005.’
Okay, well thanks for letting us know that you killed an innocent person. Now throw in a few of the things that are less known. The ‘police’ were actually plainclothes officers. When guys in normal clothes with guns follow you and pursue you, I’m not sure you want to stop and have a nice little chat. There are reports that perhaps the police did not identify themselves, other reports that he was actually shot seven times. And there is speculation that he was perhaps trying to escape because he had an expired visa. I can just see the satire about this one flying now. ‘We at Scotland Yard take our jobs very seriously. Obviously a person with an expired visa is in definite violation of our country’s laws and thus had to be brought to justice.’ There are countless possibilities; the real reason he ran from the police we will never know.
And don’t you think there’s something wrong with this picture? A suicide bomber would probably detonate it long before police could push him to the ground. In addition, a deadman switch would more than likely be used, essentially something that would detonate the bomb when he releases the trigger (after he’s dead of course). So, shooting him wouldn’t have done the police and surrounding people much good. Pumping seven or even five bullets into someone’s head from point blank range while they are held down is not protecting the public. That’s an execution. As one man put it, ‘It was chaos. It was like a shooting in a Hollywood action movie.’
The new ‘shoot to kill’ policy for police officers has many in the Muslim community on edge. They are very scared of racial profiling. One person made a point that was very interesting and somewhat shocking based on how we currently bring people to justice. He basically said that people aren’t even put in jail on mere suspicion but police officers can now kill because of that. To make matters worse, Scotland Yard has said that, while it regrets the shooting of an innocent man, incidents such as this are likely to happen again due to the current circumstances. I can only imagine what it would be like to live in a city full of trigger happy policemen.
It’s policy like this that is creating more of a problem rather than solving it. Due to the nature of terrorism, you cannot fight it with more violence. That is usually the reason for terrorism. You have to understand the problem before you can resolve it. Although Tony Blair would like to think that these acts are not because of the UK’s involvement in the ‘war on terror’, he is more than likely wrong. When you go into a foreign country and invade it, you can expect that there will be unhappy people. Just like the United States was pulled into this because of their support of Israel, the UK is beginning to feel the consequences. By segregating a community, only more dissent can be created. It is truly unfortunate what is happening in this torn city and country. I can only hope that these world leaders see the error in their ways and correct it before more harm is done.