It’s a recipe for conflict and the imposition of authoritarian rule. First, flood the country with various immigrant groups. Then set one against another by targeting specific groups – in this case Muslims – in a phoney “War on Terror”. Finally, reap the rewards as tensions mount within the community necessitating the passage of more draconian legislation.
It may sound far-fetched but no more so than police claims that the two men being held are “terrorists” as the following reveals. Ed.
Sunday Times June 4, 2006
When officers clad in black overalls smashed their way into a home in east London in the early hours of Friday morning, Abdul Kahar Kalam awoke in fright and confusion.
According to his account, he stumbled onto the stairwell in his pyjamas and was confronted by armed officers during the 4am raid. He was then shot.
As he came towards 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,” his lawyer Kate Roxburgh said last night.
“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.”
Julian Young, acting for Abdul Kahar’s brother, Abdul Koyair, 20, said: “My client denies any involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist offences and has maintained that position from the start.”
Kahar, 23, who was injured in the shoulder, and his brother were arrested in the raid at their home in Lansdown Road in Forest Gate. Their parents and sisters were also led from the house and detained.
There was disbelief among the Kalams’ neighbours that any of the family could be involved in any terrorist plot.
“At first everyone was shocked and disappointed at the thought of what might have been happening on our own doorsteps,” said Rohima Rahman, a Labour councillor. “But now questions are starting to be asked. What evidence did they have for this raid? Why did they do it in this way? And what have they found?”
Friends and neighbours insisted the police had made a mistake. One resident said: “No one would make a chemical bomb in their parents’ house.”
The history of the two young men will be scrutinised by police as they search for clues in this latest anti-terror operation. Kahar, one of four brothers, had been in trouble with the police a number of times and is understood to have been convicted about six years ago for assault. Friends and family say he then appeared to have decided to mend his ways.
Before he was convicted, Kahar was renowned as a sometimes violent petty criminal, but is said by friends to have become a “changed man” after he was persuaded to lead a more devout life by an Islamic friend.
His younger brother, who according to police sources also has a criminal record, was said to be inspired by his example.
Kahar was so proud of his new job with the Royal Mail that he would show friends his payslips and urge them to apply for jobs. One relative said: “He’s very proud to work for the Royal Mail and works overtime when he can.”
Lutfur Rahman, 33, from Beckton in east London is a colleague of Kahar at the Royal Mail sorting office in Whitechapel. He said Kahar had been a collection driver for the Royal Mail for the past six months.
“When I see all these things on TV it is like they are talking about a different person here.”
Asked if he thought his colleague could have been involved in a terrorist plot Rahman said: “Certainly not, I am 110% sure. I have absolutely no doubt about that. He was a good man, and he was sociable and nice to everybody.”
Rahman said that he last saw Kahar at work on Thursday, saying he had gone home after finishing his shift at 6.50pm. He described Kahar as stocky and between 5ft 7in and 5ft 8in tall, with a long beard and cropped hair. He said he usually dressed in western clothes but last year had joined been to Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
“The police came and checked his locker out on Friday night, and from what I have heard they came and had another check yesterday.”
The brothers are keen motorcycle enthusiasts. Kahar owns a Yamaha R6 motorbike. He is also said to be a frequent visitor to a local internet cafe where he downloads music by one of his favourite hip-hop bands. Rahman said Kahar had passed his motorbike test about three weeks ago and had bought a new motorbike for around £5,000-£6,000 last week.
Koyair works at Tesco in Tottenham, and, like his brother, keeps fit at the local gym. Both brothers prayed five times a day.
Farid Ahmed Reza, a committee member of the local Green Street mosque, said: “The people I have spoken to about these two boys said nothing bad about them. Recently their behaviour has been good and everyone has been happy with them.”
After becoming a devout Muslim Kahar converted a friend, 23-year-old Darren Joseph, to Islam. Joseph, who has since changed his name to Kaleem, said: “Kahar was not just my friend, he was my brother. These two brothers could not have been involved in any plot. They were good Muslims.
“The police are not going to find anything in the house. Kahar and Koyair would not get into anything like terrorism. Kahar is strong-minded. He is a pious Muslim. He showed me the correct path to Islam.”
Neighbours said yesterday they have suspected for some weeks that one of their homes in the street might be under surveillance. But there was no indication of the extensive police operation that was to unfold on Friday, one of the biggest anti-terror operations since September 11.
A shift worker returned to his house in a neighbouring street to see around 20 police vans parked on a road adjacent to Lansdown Road. “I knew it was about terrorism just from the sheer volume of police,” he said.
At about 4am the residents of Lansdown Road were woken by the sound of splintered wood, broken glass and shouts as police raided the house.
Kantai Khetani, 43, a neighbour, said: “They broke the front window and two men in black with guns jumped through the window and opened the front door from inside to let the other guys in.”
Inside, the two brothers were confronted by armed officers and Kahar was shot.
“They brought the younger brother out and they were searching him on the floor and put some plastic bags over his hands and legs,” said Khetani. “He was wearing a green T-shirt and jogging bottoms. They put handcuffs on him and put him in the back of a van.”
Kahar was given medical attention at the scene and then taken away by ambulance. Neighbours claim the Kalams’ sisters were later led from the house in handcuffs.
Zeyn Atcha, 17, a college student who lives two doors down from the raided house, also saw the family being taken away. “The mum was taken outside, she saw her son on the floor and was screaming, ‘My son’,” he said.
Atcha added that the younger brother was also taken outside and then dressed in a white forensic suit, the hood of which was drawn tightly around his face, before he was bundled into an unmarked police car.
There were signs last night of increasing community disquiet over the police operation. Leaflets were being circulated by the Respect party saying the neighbourhood was “shocked” by suspicions of a terrorist plot.
In the raid, police also detained members of a family in an adjacent house, which is understood to share a cellar with the Kalams’ property.
Kahar’s parents were planning to go to Bangladesh next week for a short holiday as a family treat to celebrate his sister’s graduation. According to some reports they had been allowed to leave the country yesterday after spending the night in a hotel in Barking, East London.
The family yesterday released a strongly worded statement, protesting at their treatment. “We are completely innocent and in no way involved in any terrorist activity,” they said. “This was vindicated by the police, who released us without charge yesterday afternoon. However, we would like to express our deep shock and anger at the operation that took place.”
The statement said family members were “seriously assaulted” and one person received head injuries requiring hospital treatment.
Police deny family members were assaulted.
Additional reporting: Robert Booth, Claire Newell