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Muslims question terror raid tactics

By Daniel McGrory, Michael Evans and Stewart Tendler
The Times June 06, 2006

Lawyers for the two arrested men said that they were “desperate” to prove their innocence. Abul Kahar Kalam, who was shot in the shoulder in the raid, was too ill to be questioned by police, although he remained under arrest at Paddington Green high-security police station.

Kate Roxburgh, who represents Mr Kahar, said: “I imagine he will find this very frustrating. He wants to be interviewed. He is very anti-terrorism. He is very keen on police pursuing their inquiries, but obviously he is not happy that they have focused on him.”

Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, gave a warning that if the police were found responsible for another “bungled shooting” it could have “a devastating impact” on racial harmony.

“If Abul Kahar Kalam is innocent, it will be a terrible blow for police and MI5. They are still recovering from the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes (the Brazilian shot by police on July 22 last year), and their intelligence-gathering is again being called into question,” Dr Siddiqui said.

He added: “We still do not have any idea what evidence the police had to go into this house and almost kill a man. This has raised very many questions about the nature of the intelligence that security services have about supposed terror suspects.”

He said that there was no evidence of extremism in the area around Forest Gate. Reports of how the police allegedly assaulted the family living next door would also leave Muslims “feeling increasingly victimised”, he said.

Muhammad Abdul Bari, the newly elected secretary-general of the Muslim Council, visited Forest Gate last night to hear local concerns.

Dr Bari said: “Friday’s massive police raid, purportedly looking for a suspected chemical bomb factory, and the conflicting accounts surrounding the shooting of Abul Kahar, have led to many questions being asked which need urgent answers.”

He added: “It’s in the interest of all of us that trust is maintained and that if mistakes have been made by the police, that they are acknowledged and steps taken to rebuild relationships.”

Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, the head of specialist operations at Scotland Yard, said that the police had “no choice” but to mount the raid. He said that there had been “specific intelligence” about the address in Lansdown Road. “We were left with no choice but to act on that intelligence. Public safety was our top priority. We couldn’t have lived with ourselves if we had shied away from intervening,” he said.

He said that officers had removed documents and computers and the search would continue for the rest of the week. No other addresses had been raided.
MI5 and the police are aware that if no chemical device is found at the house, or elsewhere, there could be difficult questions raised about the intelligence behind the raid.

However, underlining the threat facing Britain, security sources told The Times that dozens of terrorist networks were operating in Britain, some of which were showing an increasing interest in learning how to build chemical, biological or radiological bombs.

The growing intelligence of young Islamic radicals reading up about non-conventional explosive devices was one of the extra triggers that persuaded MI5 and the Metropolitan Police to make the raid.

John Reid, the Home Secretary, revealed in May that MI5 had so far uncovered 20 terrorist plots, a far higher figure than had previously been made public. He disclosed the figure during a meeting with families of the July 7 bombing victims.
However,the scources said that the number of networks was substantially higher. They said dozens of networks, some of them overlapping, were engaged in activities for home and overseas terrorist operations. Some of the networks involved individuals buying arms or raising funds, others consisted of larger groups.

Other Whitehall sources emphasised that, at this stage, it was believed that only a minority of the networks were focusing on chemical, biological or radiological devices. But only one attack had to succeed to cause maximum panic.

ARMED SWOOP

  • At 3.54am, 250 police — including an armed CO19 assault team — burst into the house in Lansdown Road as Operation Volga swings into action
  • First officer wearing a protective suit mounts the stairs with the safety catch off his gun
  • Abul Kahar Kalam appears in pyjamas
  • Police say there is a struggle between Mr Kahar and possibly his brother, Abul Koyair Kalam
  • The officer’s Heckler & Koch carbine fires a single shot, hitting Mr Kahar in the shoulder. Policeman later denies pulling the trigger
  • Lawyer says Mr Koyair may have shouted, but he denies pulling the trigger or causing his brother to be shot
  • Wounded man taken to hospital
  • Police make initial search of the house
  • Independent Police Complaints Commission investigators arrive

 

 

 

 

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