The police killing was condemned by Muslim groups, which expressed shock at the news of the victim’s innocence.
“To give licence to people to shoot to kill just like that, on the basis of suspicion, is very frightening,” Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain told BBC television.
The killing in front of shocked passengers on a crowded train triggered speculation that traditionally unarmed British police had adopted a shoot-to-kill policy.
“The Metropolitan Police have very clearly demonstrated that they are operating on the premise right now that if they suspect that someone is a bomber, and that the public is going to be endangered by him, they have shoot-to-kill orders,” anti-terrorism expert Robert Ayers of the Royal Institute of International Affairs think-tank told Reuters.
Where’s the accountability? If they merely suspect someone might be a bomber they can shoot to kill? If the person turns out to be blameless, as in this London subway execution by police with no evidence, what then? Will those who pulled the trigger be brought up on charges or will they get a free pass because, golly shucks, they thought the guy might be a bomber? And what are the names of the officers involved? No information about them has been released yet.
But anti-terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp of St Andrews University in Scotland said the policy, which he said was openly adopted three years ago, could do more harm than good.
“The Muslim community is very uneasy about this, understandably,” he told Reuters. “If there is a series of shooting incidents like this, then it becomes a big political issue.
“This is not a major deterrent in terms of carrying out an attack, but it is counter-productive to the careful strategy that the police and government have set out in terms of minimising polarisation within ethnic communities,” he said.
I can think of no better way to drive recruits to extremist Islamists than by the shoot-to-kill policy of London police. Nor will stop the attacks.