The raid that raised more questions than answers

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The Independent Online

Lawyers for two men arrested in an anti-terror raid in east London spoke out angrily as mystery deepened about the circumstances surrounding the operation which left one suspect with a gunshot wound.

Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, who was shot in the shoulder during Friday's raid on an east London house, was released from hospital but was too ill to be questioned by police. His brother, Abul Koyair, 20, was being questioned.

Police have been given permission to hold both men until Wednesday but could apply to hold them for a total of 14 days.

Specialist officers continued to search the house in Forest Gate, which was raided in the biggest anti-terror operation in the capital this year - to thwart a suspected chemical attack in Britain; 250 officers, some wearing protective biological and chemical suits, were involved.

Solicitors for the two men protested their innocence yesterday, saying they denied involvement in terrorism after a weekend of speculation about a possible cyanide or sarin attack or a chemical vest device that reports said was thought to be "primed and ready to go".

Speaking outside the Paddington Green high security police station in London yesterday, Julian Young, the solicitor representing Mr Koyair, said: "The phrases 'cover up' and 'Stockwell' spring to mind," referring to the Tube station where the innocent Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by police.

On Friday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police's Anti-Terrorist Branch, had said the intelligence that led to Friday's raid was "very specific". There were suggestions yesterday that the intelligence indicating that a chemical device was being prepared may have come from America. But there was no indication that police had uncovered incriminating materials. Anti-Terrorist Branch officers also carried out searches in London's Tottenham and Whitechapel districts, at the brothers' workplaces.

It has also emerged that a family living in a house adjoining the scene of Friday's raid were questioned by police for 12 hours. They were released without charge. The family, who denied any involvement with terrorist activity, were represented by the Newham Monitoring Project, the group that represents the family of Mr de Menezes.

Investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Authority have started to interview the family of the two men to piece together what happened during the raid. It is unclear how long their inquiry will take.

Kate Roxburgh, representing Mr Kahar, claimed that police had failed to give a warning before opening fire on her client. She said: "He was woken up ... 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." She said: "He wasn't asked to freeze, given any warning and didn't know the people in his house were police officers until after he was shot. He is lucky still to be alive." Ms Roxburgh added: "He is absolutely horrified and completely bewildered about how the police have come to this. He has had no involvement in this whatsoever."

Mr Young denied reports that Mr Koyair had caused his brother to be shot in a scuffle. He said: "There was a bang and a flash. He went down on to the next floor where his brother's room is and saw his brother on the floor. The client was upset, trying to find out what was happening. He was frightened. He then saw a man with a gun and, after a few seconds, the man with the gun shouted to get on the floor and pulled him away. A second gunman pulled the client to the ground." Mr Young added: "My client denies that he struggled and caused his brother to be shot. He knows nothing about cyanide or suicide belts or jackets or explosives or bombs or firearms.

"He is angry that this has happened to him but pleased police are doing their job. He denies the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. It is contrary to all his beliefs."

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, told Sky News that police had no choice but to act on information about possible terrorist activity. He said: "I actually think that the procedure of going in quickly and finding out what happened is important."

Recent police raids in Britain

More than 1,000 people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act in Britain since the US attacks on 11 September 2001 but only 121 have been charged and 23 convicted of terrorist offences

* 24 MAY: Eight Libyans arrested in raids in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Middlesbrough suspected of helping to plot and finance a Libyan terror group linked to al-Qa'ida. The investigation focused on the Sanabel Relief Agency, a charity which insists it merely channels funds for clean water and education projects in the developing world. Three men were held under the Terrorism Act and five under powers to deport people whose presence in the UK is "not conducive for reasons of national security".

RESULT: No charges or action so far.

* 6 MARCH: Four men arrested in a raid at a hall of residence at Bradford University on suspicion of involvement with al-Qa'ida.

RESULT: Four charged under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading material from the internet that could be used in terrorist activities.

* 8 OCTOBER 2005: Ten men arrested on suspicion of being Islamic terrorists and helping to finance Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, The head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. The raids in south London, Wolverhampton and Derby followed intelligence that the suspects may have been about to strike.

RESULT: No known charges.