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PM fears a violent attack

Saturday, February 24, 2018
No Muslim persecution in terror probe
Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Kazim Hosein, second from right, among PNM supporters during the party’s meeting at the La Horquetta Regional Complex on Thursday night. PICTURE AYANNA KINSALE

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is warning citizens of another possible coup d’etat against the Government similar to the July 1990 insurrection by the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen.

Speaking during a People’s National Movement meeting at the La Horquetta Regional Complex on Thursday night, Rowley, the head of the National Security Council, said citizens could wake up one morning to an attack against the country.

“The Muslims in this country have been a very peaceful and productive group, but the world of 2017 is not 1967, is not 1997. We do know that some of our citizens have attached themselves to foreign doctrines not for peace and love, but for violence and hate,” he said.

“I want to say one more thing, for those who believe that if the security services apprehend a Muslim person that it is because of some madness that has taken over the security services, let me remind you that we are the only country in the Commonwealth, in the Western hemisphere and possibly, the world, as a small island nation, or you wake up one morning and hear that a small minority of people, under religious persuasion have overthrown the Government, bombed the police headquarters and blow up the Parliament too. We experienced that. And we hope that we will never go back there, but it is part of our history,” he said, in obvious reference to the 1990 attempted coup.

During the 1990 attempted coup, Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr led 113 men to invade the Parliament, and the then only television station TTT, taking hostage of then Prime Minister ANR Robinson and other MPs for six days before a surrender was negotiated via an amnesty, later declared to be invalid.

They were never prosecuted for their crimes of treason and murder. A significant segment of Port-of-Spain was destroyed by looters, Police headquarters blown up, and the Red House left in disrepair.

The PM’s latest comments follow the detention and subsequent release of 15 people who are suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on local soil during just concluded Carnival 2018 activities. Two of the 15 suspects were charged with being in possession of a firearm component.

The information, some of which came from foreign intelligence agencies, led to heightened security and updated travel advisories from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States, warning visitors to be vigilant and wary of an imminent terrorist attack.

Rowley told supporters that when information and evidence comes to his attention that there are people whose interest might be to harm citizens, the Government is duty bound to take the necessary action.

On Wednesday, top diplomats from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the US met with Rowley to discuss T&T’s management of the terror threat.

Rowley had previously warned citizens that the latest terror threat, which has been linked to ISIS ideology, was no joke at his first public briefing on the issue.

On Thursday night he again dealt with the issue, in the wake of suggestions by some segments of society that Muslims were unfairly targeted by the security forces during the investigation into the threat.

“I have heard it said in recent days that we are persecuting Muslims because the security services have picked up people and are investigating allegations of threat and misconduct of persons, who may not be Muslims,” Rowley said.


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