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London Cops Now Licensed To Kill
2005 07 19

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Comment: Who are the Terrorists? Who are being Terrorized?

In a country where not all the police carry weapons, elite sniper squads now have shoot-to-kill orders, if there's intelligence that a terror suspect might have a bomb, and he refuses to surrender when challenged by police.

That's according to the Times of London, which reported Sunday that the special units are tracking as many as 12 suspects with ties to al Qaeda. The paper said Scotland Yard is worried those people could be planning more suicide attacks, but there isn't enough evidence to justify arresting, or even detaining them.

That may have been the case a year ago, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Holt, when Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 checked out Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the July 7 bombers. At the time, investigators decided he wasn't a threat to national security, and stopped tracking him.

A senior government minister insists Britain did not have a permissive attitude toward extremist Muslim refugees before the London bombings, dismissing criticism that lax policies have made Britain a fertile recruiting ground for Islamic extremists.

In other developments:

The death toll rose Sunday to 55 when of the severely-injured victims died.

It was reported that six people were arrested in Leeds under the British anti-terrorism act, but British police now say the suspects were arrested for immigration offenses. Police say there is no connection between the July 7 London bombings and the arrests. A police spokesman calls the first report on the arrests "a mistake."

Pakistani authorities questioned a businessman whose mobile telephone number was listed on the phone records of one of the alleged London suicide bombers, an intelligence official said Sunday.

Britain's largest Sunni group on Sunday issued a fatwa - a binding religious edict - condemning the July 7 terror bombings in London. Jama'at e Ahl e Sunnat, or the Sunni Council, said the bombings were against Islam, adding that any type of suicide attack was against the Quran.

Identifying the dead has been a challenge for British forensic experts. Of the 47 now officially identified, Holt reports it's clear they were a somber cross-section of the international city. Anthony Fatayi-Williams' roots were in Nigeria; Shyanuja Parathasangary came from Sri Lanka; Michelle Otto from Romania. The victims' occupations ranged from executive to store clerk, from cashier to postal worker.

Meanwhile, officers in the northern city of Leeds - a focus of the investigation so far - continued searching an Islamic shop and a house near the home of one of the four alleged bombers, 22-year-old Shahzad Tanweer.

MI5 began evaluating Khan during an inquiry that focused on an alleged plot to explode a large truck bomb outside a target in London thought to be a nightclub in Soho, the newspaper said. The private inquiry reportedly evaluated hundreds of potential suspects.

The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the report, and a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Downing Street office also refused to comment.

The July 7 bombings which killed 55 people on three underground trains and a double-decker bus have prompted the government to propose new legislation outlawing "indirect incitement" of terrorism, including praising those who carry out attacks.

Charles Falconer, the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, on Sunday rejected a suggestion that the government had previously been lax in its policies toward political refugees from Muslim countries and helped make Britain a fertile recruiting ground for Islamic terrorism.

"In terms of asylum, our policy is: If you are in fear of persecution, you are entitled to come here," the minister responded, speaking on British Broadcasting Corp. television. "Obviously, if you then seek to attack the very state that you come to, that gives rise to different questions.

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