06/18/2006

Campaigners call for new police apology over London terror raid

By DAVID STRINGER
Associated Press Writer

LONDON- Protesters demanded a new apology from police on Sunday over a raid in which two brothers were arrested - and one was shot - on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack on London, but were later released without charge.

Andy Hayman, assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, has apologized for "the hurt that we may have caused" by the operation - which police and security services said was launched after warnings of a potential attack in the capital with a chemically enhanced bomb.

He said officers had no choice but to act on their intelligence, a stance supported by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Police said an estimated 1,000 people joined a rally Sunday through the ethnically mixed east London suburb where the raid took place, calling for an end to what they claim is the victimization of British Muslims.

"We clearly, clearly want an apology _ unqualified. If you're going to apologize, apologize properly, don't apologize for 'hurt'," rally organizer Muddassar Ahmad said, claiming police should acknowledge their intelligence was wrong.

About 300 police _ many dressed in protective clothing _ were involved in the June 2 raid in and officers conducted a week of searches at the row house.

Brothers Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, and 20-year-old Abul Koyair _ both British-born Muslims _ were released without being charged with any offense after a week of interrogations.

Kahar, who was shot and injured, later told reporters their only crime had been to be "Asian with a full-length beard."

The march on Sunday paused at Forest Gate police station, close to the scene of the raid, where protesters handed officers a statement, urging them to learn lessons from the operation and the mistaken killing last July of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old shot dead by officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber.

De Menezes was killed soon after the deadly July suicide terrorist attacks on London's transport system, which killed 56 people; and a day after a similar but failed set of attacks.

"The key issue is one year on from Jean Charles's killing, police have not learnt any of the lessons," said Yasmin Khan, a spokeswoman for the de Menezes family who joined the march.

A British newspaper, the Sunday Mirror, reported that security service agents mounted surveillance of Kahar and Koyair after their friends visited in prison a 21-year-old ex-waiter jailed in January over a plot to kill a British soldier decorated for service in Iraq.

London's Metropolitan police said on Sunday it could not confirm or deny the report.

"We cannot comment on matters of intelligence and security," said a police spokeswoman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

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