State Terrorists on the Loose in Britain

The announcement last week by the Metropolitan Police that their “shoot to kill” policy is entirely justified underlines how much democracy we have left in Britain. Despite the murder on July 22nd 2005, by armed officers of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian worker who just happened to be resident in London, the state reserves the right to kill innocent people in cold blood. The killers of de Menezes have never been brought to answer for their crimes and the police are doing everything they can to make sure it stays that way. The official story is that de Menezes was killed because he happened to live in a multi-occupied building that was being watched because suspected terrorists lived there. This turned out to be untrue. Despite claiming to believe he was carrying a bomb the police did not stop him on his journey to Stockwell underground station. Instead they waited until he had taken a bus ride of over a mile and had boarded the train before grabbing him and emptying seven rounds into his head at point-blank range. He had neither been challenged by the police, nor was he wearing thick padded clothing (he was wearing a denim jacket) which is now reasonable grounds for shooting someone. The Chief of the Met, Sir Ian Blair, is unrepentant. The shoot-to-kill policy will continue. The death of Jean Charles de Menezes was no accident nor a result of a “communications failure” as the Met now apparently maintain. Coming in the wake of the suicide attack of July 7th and the failed attack of July 21st, the state deliberately wanted to let the world know that it was preparing to meet “terrorism”.

Repressive Laws

“The War on Terror” has turned Britain into a police state in way that it never has been before. In fact the state had been ratcheting up its arsenal of repression even before 9/11.

In 2000 the Blair regime brought in the Terrorist Act 2000 which extended the 1974 Prevention of Terrorism Act (introduced to ban the IRA and exclude its members from the UK) to apply to terrorist groups anywhere in the world. Section 44 of the Act gives the police wide stop and search powers which have been used against those attending peaceful protests.

Following 9/11 the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 which as well as making the use of nuclear weapons an offence, empowered the state to detain foreign terrorist suspects indefinitely without charge or trial if they cannot be deported without risk of torture.

A more sinister section provides that those so detained are not entitled to be informed of the grounds for their detention if the government chooses not to tell them. This is the Act that led to the indefinite detention of foreign nationals in Belmarsh prison, which only last year was declared to be unlawful by Britain’s most senior judges in the House of Lords.

The Government’s response was to change the law in another piece of legislation, The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. This introduced “control orders” which can apply to British as well as foreign nationals deemed to be terrorist suspects. Although control orders do not permit detention they can include house arrest and other restrictions on freedom of movement.

Hot on the heels of the Prevention of Terrorism Act is the Terrorism Bill. This covers issues such as acts deemed to be in preparation of terrorism and the offence of “glorification of terrorism” which was rejected by the House of Lords but re-instated in the Commons. There will also be an offence of “encouragement of terrorism” which does not require any intention to incite others to commit terrorist acts. It is clear that these broadly drafted sections are open to wide interpretation and could be used to curtail all sorts of militant political dissent. The bill also contained a provision to extend detention without charge for terrorist suspects from 14 days to 3 months. This was too much to stomach even for many MPs and the government was forced to accept a compromise extension of up to 28 days.

In addition the Government wants to end the prohibition in British courts of using evidence obtained by torture and has obtained worthless assurances from countries such as Jordan and Algeria that nationals of these countries will not be subject to torture if they are deported by the UK.

The Never-ending “War on Terror”

Jean Charles de Menezes was not the first innocent victim of state terror. Plenty of other innocent people, like Chris Alder and Harry Stanley, have been murdered over the years by the police. However this death is the sign that we have entered a new jurisdiction. The “war on terror” can go on forever. This gives perfect justification for repression at home to continue. No repressive law passed in the last thirty years has ever been rescinded. If the British state was really serious about protecting its citizens it would withdraw from the Iraqi quagmire. Our ruling class won’t do this as it sees the defence of its property as connected to the policy of the United States.

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.