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Saturday, July 23, 2005 

More on the execution on the tube.

It seems to have been proven that the man shot dead on the tube was
not carrying a bomb or any explosive device.
Reuters and Sky have been carrying similar reports to the Times. Reports on this are still confusing and contradictory, but I'm going to attempt to piece together what seems to have happened.

It appears to be agreed upon that the man came out of a house which was under surveillance by police, as having some link towards the "attacks" on Thursday. Something I haven't seen in other reports and accounts features in the Independent's story, which is that the man first got on a bus. Now, while the Independent may well have got this wrong, what's so different from a bus than a tube train? Why did they not stop him from boarding the bus, or even arrest him when he left the house? Both need answering.

When the man approached Stockwell tube station, he appears to have jumped the barriers, and was at the time being chased by armed, plain clothes police. As he approached the tube train, he either tripped as he jumped on, and fell against a pole and a person, or was tackled by police, who then bundled on top of him. He was then shot at least 3, probably 5 times, in the head. It appears the train had been delayed, which hasn't been explained, but I presume it was because the next station on from Stockwell is Oval, where one of the "attacks" took place the previous day.

The Guardian has published 7 helpful eyewitness accounts, the most authoritative and quoted is that of Mark Whitby:
"An Asian guy ran on to the train. As he ran, he was hotly pursued by what I knew to be three plain-clothes police officers.

"He tripped and was also pushed to the floor and one of the officers shot him five times.

"One of the police officers was holding a black automatic pistol in his left hand. They held it down to him and unloaded five shots into him. I saw it. He's dead, five shots, he's dead.

"I'm totally distraught. It was no more than five yards away from where I was sitting as I saw it with my own eyes.

"As the man got on the train I looked at his face. He looked from left to right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit, like a cornered fox. He looked absolutely petrified.

"He looked like a Pakistani but he had a baseball cap on, and quite a thickish coat. It was a coat like you would wear in winter, a sort of padded jacket.

"Maybe he might have had something concealed under there, I don't know. But it looked out of place in the weather we've been having.

"He was quite large, big built, quite a sort of chubby guy.

"I was crouched down and basically ran as fast as I could in a crouched position. I just was worried about bullets flying around.

"It was just an instinctive reaction to get out - people running in all directions, looks of horror on their faces, screaming, a lot of screaming from women, absolute mayhem.

"And the smell of cordite as well, the gunpowder smell, that sort of acrid sort of gunpowder smell.

"It was an absolute nightmare. I'm just waiting for the pubs to open to be quite honest - nice stiff Scotch.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life. I saw them kill a man basically. I saw them shoot a man five times."

The only person who seems to have claimed to have seen some kind of bomb belt was Anthony Larkin. He also said that he heard only 2 shots being fired. Whether he will be completely discredited remains to be seen.

This whole thing is very, very distressing and disturbing. The police seemingly had chances before he got to the tube to stop him. They chose not to. It has horrible echoes of being a chance to show the public that they mean business, as well being a plan to further terrify Londoners into thinking that there are suicide bombers all around them. Of course, this could be an entirely innocent incident. The police could well have just cocked it up, and saw something which wasn't there. Still though, some things don't add up. This BBC article which quotes Margaret Gilmore, the home affairs correspondent who I've often suspected of having right wing sympathies, as quoting a police source:
"He ran, they followed him. They say they gave him a warning, they then shot him.

"They brought in the air ambulance. They did everything they can to revive him. He died at the scene."

Other witnesses do mention there being a helicopter in the air. Was this an air ambulance, or just a normal police helicopter? When you shoot someone five times in the head, it's pretty odd to then try to revive them. The way they shot him shows that they obviously meant to kill the man. Calling the air ambulance or reviving him afterwards just seems to add insult to injury. It smacks of them trying to make what they did look better, as if they cared for this man they executed.

Vikram Dodd, in an excellent Grauniad article, spells out the police thinking and plans:

The shooting yesterday at Stockwell tube station was the first time police used special tactics developed to tackle the threat of suicide bombers.

Under Operation Kratos a senior officer is on standby 24 hours a day to authorise the deployment of special armed squads, who will track and if needs be, shoot dead suspected suicide bombers.

One of the most senior officers involved in protecting London confirmed there were special teams of armed officers ready to be deployed.

A senior Metropolitan police source with knowledge of firearms procedures said of the shooting at Stockwell: "This was an intelligence led operation, within the parameters of Kratos." Officially the Met will not talk about Kratos, but the tactics have been in place for a year and were developed after British officers learnt from their Israeli counterparts how best to tackle suicide bombers.

So it is admitted. Britain is taking lessons in stopping "terrorists", from the country which kills and assassinates with impunity.

My stomach has been churning ever since I first heard the news of the shooting. The police didn't try to stop this man; they killed him in cold blood. By all accounts, it seems like he was trying to run away. They didn't shoot him in the leg, the chest or the shoulder, they shot him in the head. Not once, but at least 3, possibly 5 or more times, in the head. This was an execution. I still find it reassuring that the police in this country don't ordinarily carry guns. That reassurance is starting to die. If the police can get away with killing a man like this in front of ordinary commuters who saw what happened, what next? Perhaps we truly are sleep walking into a police state.

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