An anti-terrorist raid that failed to turn up evidence of chemical weapons has raised questions over how the UK is fighting the war on terror.
Ministers and high-level officials approved the raid, which has damaged relations between British police and the Muslim community, it emerged on Sunday night.
The raid involving over 250 police – some armed and others wearing protective clothing – took place on June 2 after ministers and officials were advised by MI5, the security service, that a terrorist device involving cyanide was being prepared and that urgent action was necessary to protect public safety.
Mohammed Abdul Kahar, who was shot during the dawn operation, and Abul Koyair were released without charge after police found no trace of a chemical device at the house.
According to Whitehall and police insiders, a series of meetings and consultations involving senior officials and ministers was held before the raid in Forest Gate, east London.
The fact that there was wide political consultation, and the key role played by MI5, might take some of the immediate pressure off Sir Ian Blair, the head of the Metropolitan police..
However, Sir Ian continued to come under pressure on Sunday. Government ministers refused to guarantee that he would survive the publication, which is expected within weeks, of an inquiry into the killing by anti-terrorist police last July of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician.
The latest leak from the investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the shooting, published in the News of the World, a tabloid newspaper, backed earlier reports blaming de Menezes’s death on alleged operational blunders, made worse by a chaotic management structure.
The Crown Prosecution Service is in talks with the attorney-general over whether anyone should be charged as a result of the commission’s investigation.
Tony McNulty, the police minister, told the BBC on Sunday that Sir Ian’s position was ‘entirely safe’ for now but he refused to comment on the police chief’s longer-term future.
Mr McNulty was speaking as about 200 Muslims rallied outside the Scotland Yard?s police headquarters in central London to protest against the raid 10 days ago.
Protesters carried banners asking ?How intelligent is your intelligence?? and calling for ?Justice for Muslims? and on police to stop ?Terrorising our community?.
There appears to be little appetite in parliament to push for Sir Ian?s immediate resignation over the raid.
Nevertheless, the Metropolitan police is facing claims for compensation that could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds from lawyers acting for the two brothers, one of whom sustained a gunshot wound during the raid.
Whitehall and police sources admitted the raid on the east London house had returned community relations to the low point they were at before the July bombings in London, when there was a widespread perception among Muslims that they were being stigmatised by the government?s anti-terror strategy.
Some senior police officers told the Financial Times they believed they were now facing a big challenge in trying to regain the support of moderate Muslim opinion and to prevent extremists exploiting the unease felt within the wider community.
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