Sunday, June 11, 2006

Flawed intelligence sparked police raid

TWO-HUNDRED-and-fifty police officers, many of them armed, raided a home in Forest Gate, east London, in the early hours of Friday morning.

They burst into the house shouting and screaming as the two brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abul Koyair, who lived there struggled to rouse themselves and stumble down the stairs. Halfway down the stairs Kahar was shot and wounded in the shoulder, he says by police coming up the stairs.

In addition, the police raided neighbours’ houses and took them for 12 hours of questioning. One of these neighbours received a head injury that required hospital treatment.

Police claimed they had sound intelligence from MI5 that the house they raided was being used to make a deadly dangerous chemical weapon.

But the most thorough of searches of that house, over several days, have produced neither a shred of evidence of chemical weapons nor any links between the two brothers with terrorism.

Senior counter-terrorism officers now admit the intelligence may have been flawed. It emerged that the specific information came originally from a police informant who had been providing information about the activities of alleged Islamic militants for several weeks.

The police then took this information to MI5 for it to be assessed. The police and MI5 then agreed it was specific and credible and that immediate action was necessary.

There were no attempts to corroborate the information. Information from paid informants is notoriously unreliable because the money is an incentive to invent or exaggerate information. Both brothers deny any involvement with chemical weapons or terrorism.

Later rumours emerged that Kahar had been shot by his brother accidentally in a scuffle.


His lawyer, Kate Roxburgh, reported her client’s account of the shooting: “He was woken up about four in the morning by screams from downstairs, got out of bed in his pyjamas obviously unarmed, nothing in his hands, and hurrying down the stairs.

“As he came toward a bend in the stairway, not knowing what was going on downstairs, the police turned the bend up towards him and shot him – and that was without any warning.

“He wasn’t asked to freeze, given any warning and he didn’t know the people in the house were police officers until after he was shot. He is lucky still to be alive.”

The circumstances of the shooting are now the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Authority and so the police are refusing to make any further comments.

Koyair’s solicitor, Julian Young, said: “My client denies any involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist offences and has maintained that position from the start.”

Kahar was taken to hospital after the shooting but released on Tuesday, when he was arrested and taken to join his brother in custody in Paddington Green police station. On Wednesday the police applied for an extended warrant to hold the men for another week.

A neighbouring family, detained by the police during the raid, have also denied any involvement in any kind of terrorism are also considering legal action against the police.

The family of four adults and an eight-month-old baby said the police had questioned them for 12 hours.

They issued a statement saying: “We would like to express our deep shock and anger at the operation that took place. My family members and I were physically assaulted. I received head injuries that required hospital treatment. We are liaising with our legal team on the course of action to take.”

A woman from the family also had to be treated in hospital for shock.