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Friday, June 16, 2006 

Sun-watch: Smearing and distorting on a grand scale.

The terror raid on the home of brothers Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abul Koyair, involving at least 250 police officers, continues to raise as many questions about the media's involvement in the debacle as the police's brutal and cack-handed way of going about things. Since the beginning there has been an almost smear them and think about the consequences later mentality. The Murdoch papers have been at the forefront of this.

The Times on the Saturday alleged that at least one of the brothers had a criminal record. Neither do, although the Sun alleges that one of them committed offences while a juvenile.
On the Sunday following the raid,the News of the World led with the report that one brother had grabbed at the gun and shot the other, along with incredibly menacing black and white photos of one of the brothers. It also alleged that the police were looking for a device that would spray out cyanide, and that the brothers were about to leave the country. Indeed they were, as the whole family was about to leave on holiday. The gun story has since been denied by both their lawyers and the men themselves. The Sun then revealed that the brother's half-brother was a "vicious" armed-robber, and had supposedly also taken part in the extremist protest back in February where demonstrators had carried placards with "butcher those who insult Islam" and chanted that terrorist vengeance would be forthcoming. The half-brother was jailed in 2003. How much influence he could have on the brothers from inside is not explained. The Sun quoted a police source that the link the brothers had with him "totally justified" the raid in which one of the brothers was shot.

Yesterday the Sun splashed on the story that £38,000 had been found in the house, the only major find apart from a bottle of aspirin, despite taking the house to pieces, digging up the back garden and drilling the walls.
Police quizzed Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, and his brother Abul Koyair, 20, about the money during the week they spent in custody.

But neither would tell them where it came from. Last night a security source said: “It was a hell of a lot to have knocking around. The cash was in a bedroom, much of it in £50 notes.

“Urgent inquiries are being carried out to trace the source of the money and what it was intended for.”

Police were desperate to learn how Kahar, a postal worker, and Tesco shelf-stacker Koyair could have had such a vast sum in their house.


But neither they nor their lawyers made any mention of the £38,000.

Today the truth emerged, as the sister of the brothers' made a statement which explained why the money was there and made it look increasingly like a section of the press, in co-operation with the police, is determined to smear the entire family:
In a strongly worded statement, his sister Humeya Kalam said she had informed police about the money two hours after the raid took place. She said it was accumulated income which the family was reluctant to store in a bank because they felt that to do so would conflict with their religious beliefs. She said the money was kept in the basement of the house next door, which is owned by her and rented to a separate family.

"The story is incorrect in every way. It suggests that there is something sinister and unexplained in relation to monies found in my house," Ms Kalam said.

"The monies are neither sinister nor unexplained. I told the police that the money comes primarily from the monthly income from the rental of number 48, kept by my mother for safekeeping over the period of time in which I have owned the house, ie over approximately four years. My mother has never felt it right to keep this money in a bank account, or to hold savings in a bank; Islam prohibits the keeping of money in circumstances where interest is earned or where it is paid."

She added: "My mother has always held our savings in this way; in the same way savings were kept by her for me to buy number 48. Now in turn, I am providing my income from number 48 for my mother to keep in the same way.

"My brothers Kahar and Koyair each contribute from their wages every month to the money that my mother holds. Despite being told this by me, at Plaistow police station, and by my brothers entirely separately in Paddington Green station, the police have asked neither my mother nor my father any questions on this issue." She said her family felt there were people who wished "to believe the worst of my family and ensure that their slur reaches the widest audience."

So either the Sun believed what they were told by their source, which was a bunch of lies, or they participated in making up a large amount of their story from a small amount of truth told to them.

Since the beginning the Sun has wanted to believe the worst. When it seemed that nothing would be found and the police had made a mistake, based on erroneous intelligence, they brought the fact that their half-brother had a criminal record into the mix to make them look as though they had something to hide. They alleged he attended the extremist demo to paint them as likely sympathisers to the cause of radical Islam. They then led the paper with a story which was wrong on every single level, and which could have been explained by making just one phone call to the brothers' lawyers. Either they didn't bother, or they knew that it was likely that the story would fall apart if they did. This is of course the same newspaper that is read by a large number of plods, whose editor has admitted that police have been paid for information provided to it, and which was so behind Blair's plans for terrorist suspects to be held for a maximum of 90 days without charge that it called all the MPs that voted against the act "traitors".

Hardly anyone disagrees that if the police get credible intelligence which points to the likelihood of there being an imminent terrorist attack, or that a device is being stored, that they must take action. What is disgraceful is the way the police since the raid have briefed the media almost every hour, providing erroneous story after erroneous story. That the majority of the media, including the BBC (remember the reports on the ricin plot that never was?) has fell for so many of these whispers shows the way that so much of it has become a mouthpiece for Scotland Yard and Special Branch - only reporting what their sources tell them, not questioning them or anaylsing their information with the other facts on the ground. After all, no source likes having his material debunked. Some of the stories as a result have been nothing more than crude smears; there is no other way to explain them.

When another raid such as this happens, the first thought of many will be "here we go again". This will not be down to those who the Sun called traitors - it will be the result of a media only too willing to join in with the police in presuming guilt until proved innocent. They have a lot to answer for, but as we know, the Sun is answerable to no one.

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