Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Police release terror suspects due to lack of evidence

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , LONDON

Two brothers arrested in an anti-terrorism operation in East London last week were released on Friday after the authorities failed to find any evidence against them, police officials said.

The release of the two, Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, and Abul Koyair, 20, was an embarrassing blow to the Metropolitan Police, which led the raid. The operation, which dominated headlines and raised fears of a terrorist plot involving chemical weapons, involved 250 or so armed police officers, some wearing protective biochemical suits, just before dawn on June 2.

The police, who were working in conjunction with Britain's domestic security service, MI5, and with biochemical weapons experts, said they were responding to "very specific intelligence" that chemical weapons were possibly being stored in a house in Forest Gate.

Kahar was shot in the shoulder during the operation, but was treated and released from the hospital before being moved to a high-security police station house, where he was questioned along with his brother.

Meanwhile, the house was sealed off and the authorities began searching it. After the arrests, the family of the two men called the storming of their house "barbaric and horrific" and said the brothers were innocent.

Under anti-terrorism legislation, the police were allowed to hold the pair without charges until Wednesday. A judge granted a two-day extension that expired Friday.

Defending the arrests earlier this week in the face of growing neighborhood criticism of police heavy-handedness, Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman of the Metropolitan Police declined to reveal details about the intelligence the police had acted on, but he said it represented a plausible tip.

The police took the unusual step on Friday night of all but apologizing for the raid, while promising to help the family restore the ransacked house. The house has been closed for the past week while the police searched for evidence.

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