- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2005

LONDON (AP) — London’s police chief said he wants to ensure that Britain’s anti-terror investigators are not affected by criticism about the killing of an innocent man, telling a Sunday newspaper that their most important task is to prevent further attacks.

The police have been fiercely criticized since officers fatally shot Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber.

Mr. Menezes was shot seven times in the head July 22 by police who tailed him to a subway station the day after four bombs were carried onto London’s transit system but failed to detonate fully. Those attempted bombings occurred two weeks after four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on the London Underground and a double-decker bus.

“We have to concentrate on how we find the people who are helping or thinking about planning further atrocities,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair told the News of the World.

Commissioner Blair told the newspaper that he is making “sure anti-terror investigators are not affected” by the criticism.

“I have told them, ‘This is not your problem,’” he was quoted as saying. “For myself, it’s a job I have to do. And I am not going to be distracted from the main job, which is finding the terrorists.”

Commissioner Blair said he did not know the Brazilian was not connected to the attempted bombings until 24 hours after the shooting.

“Somebody came in at 10:30 [Saturday] and said the equivalent of ‘Houston, we have a problem,’” the commissioner was quoted as saying.

“He didn’t use those words, but he said: ‘We have some difficulty here, there is a lack of connection,’” Commissioner Blair said. “I thought, ‘That’s dreadful. What are we going to do about that?’”

The Metropolitan Police said Saturday that it had reviewed the use of deadly force against terror suspects after Mr. Menezes’ killing and made minor changes.

A police spokeswoman declined to discuss details of the changes in Operation Kratos, the force’s name for what the British press calls a “shoot-to-kill” policy.

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