The Real Meaning of the Murder of Jean Charles de Menezes

Garbis Altinoglu, 29 July 2005

The killing on 22 July, of a 27-year old Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes at a tube station in south London is a blatant example of state terrorism. From what has transpired, any unbiased person could understand that, what happened that day was a pre-planned cold-blooded murder by the police or the military.

According to the account provided by the police, Mr de Menezes had emerged from a “not very large” block of flats which already had been under surveillance before he was followed to Stockwell metro station. The police had alleged that,

“He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behavior at the station added to their suspicions.” Police said they ordered him to halt. Instead, according to the police, he vaulted the turnstiles and ran onto a train, with police close behind. (This account has been challenged and refuted. On 28 July, his cousin Vivien Figueiredo, 22, told the press that Jean Charles de Menezes did not wear a heavy jacket in contrast to what police said and did not jump the ticket barrier, since he was using a travel card.) Then the police shot him at the head 7 times; that is they summarily executed him.
Coming in the wake of the stupid lies over 7 July bombings, this official story is nothing but truthful and convincing. If Mr de Menezes was under surveillance, the police must surely have known about his identity beforehand or at least before he left his residence on that day. Therefore, it is entirely illogical for the police to argue that they mistook or suspected him of being a suicide bomber.
Assuming for a moment that this was the case, the police could challenge him to stop before he reached the tube station and try to neutralize him at a less crowded place. This would minimize or at least lessen the extent of casualty that a potential explosion would cause. At the very least, the police could render Mr de Menezes harmless by wounding him in a non-lethal manner. If he really were a suicide bomber, this “careless” act of allowing him to enter the crowded tube station would have provided de Menezes with the opportunity to do the greatest amount of harm to the people around. Under these circumstances, one cannot escape the conclusion that the murder of de Menezes was planned beforehand and executed accordingly.
The fact that, the London Police Commissioner Ian Blair accused him immediately after the event with having connections to the London bombings, is another proof of the existence of such a plan. Only after a couple of hours after the shooting, Ian Blair said the victim was ‘directly linked’ to the investigations into attacks 7 July and 21 July. He later retracted this statement and offered his apologies for the murder. But, how could he speak with such certainty, at a moment of time when there was no evidence whatsoever linking Mr de Menezes to the bombings of 7 and 21 July.
We cannot expect the British police to act in a spirit of revenge or commit acts of terror for its own sake. Here we are talking about the police force of the British ruling classes, who are equipped with the centuries-long experience of ruling, exploiting and dominating workers and toilers in several countries and continents. If this is the case, one must inquire about the real motive behind this cold-blooded murder? There can be only one answer to this question: to frighten and intimidate the British working people, to drive Britain towards a fascistic regime AND to prepare the ground for British participation in further military adventures in the Middle East. The actions and statements of authorities cannot be explained in any other way. That is the reason why, the British police must have decided to kill de Menezes in a crowded place like the Stockwell tube station in front of dozens of people, instead of a less crowded site, since the latter would have much less psychological impact on the public. In this way they have delivered a thinly veiled threat to the people in general: “If you do not behave well, you might end up like Mr de Menezes!” In fact, this makes the killing of de Menezes a classic case of state terrorism. This, indeed, is what terrorism is all about! FBI had described terrorism in the following manner:
“Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” This definition of terrorism mirrors both the way de Menezes was killed and the motives behind the attitude and intent of British authorities.
The statements of British authorities in relation to the de Menezes incident and their bloodthirsty language reinforce this message and bear witness to the intention of instilling fear into the British people.
For instance, Lord Stevens, previously Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police London, wrote in News of the World that he had dispatched teams for training to Israel and other countries hit by suicide bombers. There, he said, he had learned that,
“There is only one sure way to stop a suicide bomber determined to fulfil his mission: destroy his brain instantly, utterly.” Make no mistake: This is a more or less open threat directed at ordinary people.
“But the mistaken shooting” said Knight Ridder on 23 July, “heightened the tension growing in the capital. Londoners on the subways said they no longer felt safe, taxi drivers wondered what security measures they should take, and an Italian soccer team announced it wouldn’t play scheduled games this week in England because of the terror threat.” Furthermore,
“Today, they (i.e. the police) searched a block of flats in Tulse Hill, forcing residents out just after 3 p.m., then swarming in, weapons drawn. Neighbors said they had no idea who or what police were searching for. Several residents said they heard gunfire, or loud noises that sounded like gunfire, though police say no shots were fired. Still, Alexander Sraha, a 36-year-old professional who lives near the search area and is black, noted that everyone is getting jumpy.” (Knight Ridder, 26 July 2005) This is just the intended aim of the terror tactics of the British state: to instill fear in the general population and prepare the political atmosphere for the introduction of anti-democratic and fascistic legislation under the guise of protecting the citizenry from Muslim terrorists.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair’s statement after the event too fits this pattern. Here he admitted further people could be shot as detectives hunt down the potential suicide bombers who tried to bring further carnage to London. Although he called the death of Mr de Menezes as a “tragedy”, on 24 July Ian Blair did not refrain from issuing fresh threats:

“Somebody else could be shot. But everything is done to make it right.”

He didn’t explain how such a glaring mistake was made. He didn’t reveal what actually went wrong, during the shooting in execution style of Mr de Menezes. Nor did he explain the reason behind his hasty judgment connecting de Menezes with the so-called suicide bombers. Ian Blair defended the actions of his officers, but failed to explain how an obviously innocent person who had been under surveillance for some time, could be mistaken for a “suicide bomber.”
According to a report published in The Independent on 29 July, Met chief Ian Blair commenting on the aborted bombings of 21 July once again tried to intimidate the British public citing the danger of further attacks. He said:
“This is not the B team, these were not the amateurs; they only made one mistake, and we’re very, very lucky. The carnage that would have occurred, had those bombs gone off, would have at least been equivalent to those on 7 July…” Ian Blair also warned that terrorists could attack targets other than the transport system and added:
“There is no reason why they are going to stay attacking the transport system.”
According to the report of The Independent, Ian Blair described the investigation as the “greatest operational challenge that the Metropolitan Police Service has faced since the Second World War.” The police force had received more than 5,000 calls to the anti-terrorist hotline and was examining 15,000 CCTV tapes. The entire investigation was costing around £500,000 a day.
* * * * *
The propertied ruling classes have done and continue to do everything in their power to dissociate the notions/ terms of “state” and “terror.” And that is perfectly understandable, considering the fact that state terrorism is the most dangerous and most extensive form of terrorism. By focusing the attention of the people on “individual terrorism” of small and mostly ineffective groups, the real purveyors of violence and terror, i.e. the propertied classes, aim to conceal their bloodthirsty hands and intentions. Everybody will easily understand that, apart from periods of civil war or guerilla warfare, imperialist and capitalist states and their cohorts monopolize means of violence and terror and even under those special conditions they maintain an overwhelming superiority vis-a-vis the forces of popular resistance in terms of firepower, troops etc. They, on the other hand, want this abusive term (“terrorist”) to connote and remind communist, revolutionary-democratic and other anti-imperialist parties and organizations, who resist to this or that extent the economic and political status quo. However, an open-minded and unbiased approach to the question will demonstrate that throghout history the vast majority of acts of terror and terrorism have been committed by the propertied ruling classes, their state apparata and the appendages of these repressive apparata against mostly unarmed civilian populations, that is workers, peasants, national, religious minorities etc.

Systematically terrorizing workers, other toilers and oppressed nations on the one hand and dubbing their resistance to exploitation and oppression as terrorism, is an old trick of colonialists and imperialists. This, of course, is true for the British ruling classes as well. A cursory exploration of the history of the Britain during the last couple of centuries will provide one with a wealth of material more than sufficient to implicate these people as state terrorists and war criminals of the worst kind. Starting from the 18th century, British colonialists and imperialists have terrorized and massacred millions of people in dozens of countries including India, America, Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Sudan, Cyprus, Ceylon, Russia, Greece, China, Afghanistan, Oman etc. Therefore, when the representatives of British financial capital pose as victims of terrorism and try to pass off themselves as civilized and innocent targets of bloodthirsty and barbaric fanatics, they will be able to convince only the most backward sections of British and world public.
Here I will end my words by referring to US imperialists, who in contrast to their underhanded and wily British counterparts, have always tended to speak more frankly about their motives and intentions. A 1995 STRATCOM (=United States Strategic Command) document called Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence actually and openly called for instilling fear in and terrorizing the “adversaries”. The document stated:
“The fact that some elements [of the U.S. military/ government] may appear to be potentially ‘out of control’ can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary’s decision makers…
“That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries… It hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed…”
This typical statement faithfully mirrors the attitude of imperialist bourgeoisie towards the peoples of colonies and semi-colonies. As long as capitalism and imperialism exists and the exploitation and oppression of the working people by a small minority of the population, that is the propertied classes, persists, terror and war shall remain on the agenda of humanity. Only the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism and the construction of a socialist and later of a classless society shall deliver humanity from the scourge of terror and war.

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