Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Trinidad's Islamic Fascists

We get regular readers at this blog from Trinidad. Perhaps the following stories clarify the interest.

Thanks to and John B.

The 4th Bomb attack on Trinidad in recent months

Category: caribbean Dated: 18/10/2005
Trinidad has been plagued by a series of bomb attacks. Friday 14th October saw its fourth attack in recent months.

Staff Writer : Email Newsdesk
Copyright © The Colourful Network

The South Western Police Division was hard-pressed after Friday’s bombing in St. James, Trinidad. There has been a request for more police officers to be allocated to Cedro, Rio Claro, Mayaro, Sande Grande, Bliche and Manzanilla police stations.

The bombs was described as being of ‘low density’; however it was reported that 7 people were injured due to the explosion outside the popular nightspot, ‘Smokey and Bunty.’ The frequently attended nightspot was literally yards away from the St. James Police station.

The casualties were admitted into the Port of Spain general hospital, however there were no fatalities. The scene was described as extremely chaotic and spills of human blood were reportedly seen.

The police were aware of possible attacks

Detectives had received information prior to Friday’s events concerning the possible threat to the Port of Spain. Cedric Neptune, President of the Police and Welfare suggested that the police were on high security alert; however he was not at liberty to disclose any further information to the press.

There have now been five arrests in connection with Friday’s bombing, one of whom is affiliated with the local militant Muslim group, otherwise known as Jaamat-al Muslimeen.

When Patrick Manning, the prime minister of Trinidad, was interviewed concerning these attacks on Trinidad, he stated:

"What is different on this occasion is that there have been arrests," said Prime Minister Manning.

"We have not been completely in the dark about these bombings. Investigations have given us very important leads. Now the arrests have been made we will see what the interrogation will turn up."

There have been a series of bomb attacks on Trinidad. The 11th July on Frederick Street, Port of Spain saw 15 causalities, 10th August on George Street showed no casualties, and 10th September only one person suffered minor injuries.

July 27, 1990: Black Muslim Rebellion Begins
A black Muslim sect, the Jamaat Al-Muslimeen, captured the prime minister and other officials in an attempt to overthrow the government. Before the coup attempt ended on August 1 with the surrender of the rebels, the capital, Port of Spain, was heavily damaged by rioting and looting.
The World: Trinidad and Tobago
Terrorists Develop Island Operations
Posted Dec. 24, 2002
Jamaat al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr.
Jamaat al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr.

Al-Qaeda and two other Middle East terrorist groups have established operations and are leading a holy war against U.S. and British interests from the tiny Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Insight has learned from U.S. government sources and officials inside the government of Trinidad and Tobago. A U.S. official involved in tracking these activities says Umar Abdullah is "leading a group called the Islamic Front," believed to be "smuggling AK-47s, Tech-9s and Glocks" into the island country. According to the U.S. source, Abdullah may have fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the 1980s, operates "in solidarity with al-Qaeda and the Taliban" and is "maintaining relations with Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

According to the State Department, Hamas is a Palestinian-based branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Egyptian-based Islamic Jihad is a "close partner of [Osama] bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization." Both are terrorist groups.

Emergence of the Islamic Front in Trinidad has raised such concern in the United States, say sources on the island, that FBI and CIA counterterrorism experts have been dispatched to assist the government there in investigating groups with terrorist ties.

Trinidad and Tobago is a stable country, but has suffered some Muslim terrorism. In 1990 the Trinidad-based Muslim group Jamaat al-Muslimeen bombed police headquarters, attacked the parliament, shot and wounded the prime minister and held hostage members of his Cabinet in an effort to overthrow the government. According to press accounts, 24 people were killed and hundreds wounded during the attempted coup that lasted six days.

Jamaat al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, who led the failed coup, was convicted and jailed along with other group members, but in 1992 they were released from prison on a legal technicality. According to U.S. government sources, Jamaat al-Muslimeen primarily is affiliated with Libya. A high-level source in the Trinidad prime minister's office tells Insight that Bakr is known to have traveled to Libya many times. But now, according to a U.S. counterterrorist specialist, the Islamic Front is "taking over the Libyan operations," leaving a complicated web for counterterrorism investigators to untangle.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Minister for National Security and Rehabilitation Howard Chin Lee have attempted to downplay terrorist-threat conditions in Trinidad in response to other press inquiries. Though Manning and Lee were not available to answer questions from Insight, senior staff members of the administration spoke to this magazine on condition of anonymity. One official says Manning is concerned that if reports of the Islamic Front are widely circulated, "it would adversely affect the economy," but insists that, internally, preventing "terrorism is the main concern" of the prime minister.

Some within the Manning administration openly admit there is a sense of great urgency about this. During the last year there has been "a wave of crime" in urban areas where "Islamic fundamentalists have been aggressively recruiting among the poor" and, according to a Trinidadian government source, some of the jihadist recruits "are traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan" and back.

There is concern that the omnipresence of U.S. and British petroleum companies in the oil-rich nation provide easy pickings for terrorists. Local populists say this is the reason U.S. and British counterterrorism experts are on the island. "They came in to ensure the security of the multinational corporations," a source assured. If so, it is being handled secretively, as such an operation would be; neither the FBI nor CIA would confirm presence in Trinidad and Tobago.

One official who spoke with Insight on the record is Sen. Sadiq Baksh, a Muslim who says he is concerned about the threat posed by radical Islam to the safety of the citizens of Trinidad. Baksh says there is reason for "profound alarm over the escalating crime rate in our republic over the past 11 months."

A member of the United National Congress party, which opposes the administration of the prime minister's People's National Movement (PNM), Baksh tells Insight: "Recent studies have revealed that two out of every three persons in this country live in fear for their own personal safety and the safety of their loved ones."

Baksh and other officials agree that the surge in crime is characteristic of areas in which terrorist operations are mounted. For instance, there have been repeated "kidnappings of businessmen ... more than 40 in an eight-month period," a member of the prime minister's staff tells this magazine.

Baksh cites growing concern about the Manning administration, claiming that "two out of every three persons admit that they have no confidence in the government's ability to protect them." He tells Insight: "In the past 12 months, over 155 citizens of this country have had their lives snuffed out, surpassing the murder figures of 2001. ... And the minister of national security calls on the people to thank their lucky stars because it could have been worse." But Baksh also says the Manning administration is more than just indifferent to terrorism. He points to Jamaat al-Muslimeen's support for the Manning team in the October elections.

Baksh warns, "The ruling PNM ... has been compromised by its unholy alliance with known terrorists and insurrectionists." He and other critics insist that Manning courted Jamaat al-Muslimeen in hopes of securing support from the nation's growing Muslim minority, now 15 percent of the total population. Baksh asks, "How can the PNM government solve crime when it is in bed with the extremist and known criminal elements?"

Insight obtained a Trinidad telephone number for Jamaat al-Muslimeen and attempted to speak with Bakr. After this magazine placed repeated calls and spoke with three different people, a male leader of the group who refused to identify himself answered several questions, then began shouting and abruptly slammed down the receiver. Asked about Jamaat al-Muslimeen terrorist activities in Trinidad he denied that there were any. When asked about the 1990 coup attempt staged by the group, he responded, "I don't know anything about that. I was in the U.S. at the time." Asked about the Islamic Front and Umar Abdullah, he responded: "I know very little about him; he's a little upstart."

While Insight was unable to track down Abdullah or anyone from the Islamic Front for comment, the voice speaking for Jamaat al-Muslimeen confirmed vigorous proselytizing in Trinidad, explaining, "One of the tenets of Islam is to propagate the faith." When asked if jihadists and other Muslim extremists were responsible for the spike in murder and kidnapping in Trinidad, he responded, "That crime belongs to poverty."

Baksh, the Muslim senator, says "During the holy month of Ramadan we had a significant reduction in murder and kidnapping, and it is not insignificant that after the holy month we once again saw a spike" in criminal activity.

Meanwhile, U.S. sources claim to be unclear about whether the suspected terrorist cells in Trinidad will mobilize and pose a direct threat to citizens inside the United States. In October, Trinidad immigrant Shueyb Mossa Jokhan was sentenced to "nearly five years in federal prison for a terrorist bombing plot," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The report said that Jokhan pleaded guilty to "conspiring to bomb electrical transformers and the Israeli Consulate in Miami." The plan reportedly was "hatched in a Florida mosque" and involved a Pakistani immigrant who recruited Jokhan for the attack, but law-enforcement sources tell Insight they have been unable to connect the foiled Florida attack to the Islamic Front in Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago is in the southern Caribbean just a few miles off the coast of troubled Venezuela [see "Chavez Plans for Terrorist Regime," in this issue]. The island nation has been independent of the British Commonwealth since 1962.

Scott L. Wheeler is a reporter for Insight.
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