Hasan Suroor

Raid to thwart terror attack: authorities

LONDON: More than 24 hours after Friday's dramatic raid on a house in east London during which a young man was shot at by the police, detectives were on Saturday still looking for a "chemical device'' that they alleged could be used to trigger a terror attack.

There was widespread criticism of the manner in which the operation was handled, especially the decision to shoot at 23-year-old Abdul Kahar before arresting him. Mr. Kahar, who was initially thought to be a Pakistani, was identified as of Bangladeshi origin. His brother Abdul Koyar (20) was also arrested and both were being questioned.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has already announced an investigation into the incident. It also investigated the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian youth, who was killed by the police last July on suspicion of carrying a bomb. Residents of Forest Gate, a predominantly immigrant neighbourhood with a large Bangladeshi and Pakistani population, were angry and said an "innocent'' man had been shot at and wounded.

"They shot him in front of his mum and took his brother. They went into his house at 4 a.m. when everyone else was sleeping. There is no bomb factory there. It is a normal house like everyone else's,'' an angry relative said. Mr. Kahar, a postal employee, was said to have become religious after the 9/11 attacks but his friends denied that he was a "militant.''

Police insisted that the raid was prompted by "specific intelligence'' that the house was being used as a "bomb factory.'' They also claimed that according to their informant he had seen a "chemical vest'' in the house and that there was a threat of an imminent attack.

Peter Clarke, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said the raid was intended to prove or disprove the intelligence.