Leading article: The police should explain

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The Independent Online

The release without charge of the two brothers arrested in the raid on a house in Forest Gate has made the police and security services look foolish - or worse. One of the brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar, is lucky to be alive, having been shot, apparently by accident, in the pre-dawn operation. No wonder some British Muslims feel demonised by the "war on terror".

Political extremists have seized on the raid as evidence of state-sanctioned Islamophobia. Yet it is not only Muslims who suffer from police and the security services' mistakes, as the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian Roman Catholic, can testify.

A bit of world-weary realism is called for. The shooting of Mr Menezes was a truly dreadful error, but we simply do not yet have enough information to know how wide of the mark was the raid in Forest Gate. In the absence of hard facts, conspiracy theories flourish. George Galloway's Respect coalition is eager to persuade disaffected Muslims that the raid was an attempt to frighten them into submission. From the Metropolitan Police's panicky damage limitation in the past few days, the opposite is plainly the case: that the police are acutely aware of the potential gift their raid is to jihadist propagandists.

Then there are the mirror-image conspiracy theories. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, suggested that extremists might be feeding dud intelligence to the security services, in order to stir up precisely such animosity between Muslims and the police.

That is enough wild theories. What matters is that the security services and the police show that they can learn from their mistakes. That requires honesty about past failures, from Iraq to 7/7 and Menezes - and it requires as much openness as is possible about Forest Gate. There has already been too much anonymous leaking of details of the raid - such as the alleged fact that Mr Kahar was shot because the officer could not feel the trigger through his protective gloves. The instinct of cover-up that was displayed in the Menezes affair must give way to a presumption of openness. That is the only way to persuade British Muslims that they are not being treated indiscriminately as the enemy within.