August 03, 2005

Assault Socks and Assassinations: The Muddled Politics of Counter-terrorism

A poll conducted by YouGov published in The Economist, shows that 70-percent of Britons support the new "shoot-to-kill" policies put in place in the wake of the 7/7 suicide bombings, even after an unarmed Brazilian electrician was shot eight times after running from the police. The poll was conducted via an online interview of 2,873 British adults, according to Angus Reid Consultants.

The Belfast Telegraph reports—though I cannot independently confirm—that British police can not only shoot to kill suspected suicide bombers, but they could do so without identifying themselves or challenging a suspected bomber to stop. While sure to rile alarmists, the policy makes perfect tactical sense.

Undercover officers should not risk the lives of civilians by identifying themselves or asking the suspected bombers to stop, as either of these actions would result in a suicide bomber having one last chance to detonate his explosives.

While this policy is nothing less than state-supported assassination, it is the correct response. It is better to make the mistake of having three or five or even more innocent people killed in cases of mistaken identity, than letting one suicide bomber detonate on a bus or subway car and kill or wound dozens. After years of being in denial and under-responding to the threat of radical Islam, it seems that Britons have finally learned how to respond to the terrorist threat.

Or have they?

Worldnet Daily has confirmed the rumor that at least some British Police departments still don't get it, requiring police SWAT teams to remove their shoes before conducting counter-terrorism raids on British Muslim homes. The guidelines, developed before the recent terror attacks, also prevent Bedfordshire Police from interrupting Muslims at prayer during these raids. Presumably, a terrorist can "stop, drop and pray" to prevent arrest.

See if you can tell the subtle difference in treatment of a suspected suicide bomber in Britain based upon his location.

Scenario One: A flat in Luton (Pre-7/7)

If police are tipped to the location of a suspected suicide bomber who lives in Luton, they must apparently put up a sign in teh neighborhood explaining why there needs to be a raid, and then wait until after dawn before taking off their shoes and walking to the house. Once they reach the house, they will knock respectfully and announce their presence so they will not see Muslim women inappropriately dressed. After police officials verify that officers are clad in stocking feet only, and that all people inside are approropriately dressed, they may enter the home.

While in the home, they should refrain from touching anything that looks like it might in some way have any religious significance. They may not videotape the premises, nor may they enter bedrooms or bathrooms, nor may they bring in dogs trained to sniff for explosives. Officers should not interrupt any suspect until after they are done with their prayers.

If they do decide to take a suspect into custody, they should allow him to grab his racksack to take with him before they leave.

Scenario Two: A London tube station (Post 7/7)



I hope British police organizations can come to a consensus as to which approach will prove more effective before the next wave of suicide attacks.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 3, 2005 09:49 PM | TrackBack