Tensions simmer between Abu Bakr and Trinidad security forces

Tensions remain high between the Muslim group Jamaat Al Muslimeen and the government of Trinidad and Tobago after the Jamjaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr said he would not accept security forces entering a mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Bakr, who led an unsuccessful coup against the then A.N.R. Robinson administration on July 27, 1990, said he was prepared to “respond appropriately” if the security forces continue “this transgression against us.”

Bakr’s comments during a radio program on July 23 followed what he claimed was the unlawful detention of people at a mosque in Carapo, south of Port-of-Spain.

The Ministry of National Security released a statement in response to Bakr’s remarks saying that:

“While there is no evidence of any threat, all usual systems remain in place to deal with any or all threats to public safety and security. These measures are part of the nation’s upgraded defense mechanisms which remain in place on an ongoing basis.” 

Bakr warned acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams, National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Roger Alexander, head of the North Eastern Division Task Force, that “the question of coming into the mosque in Ramadan and detaining people unlawfully will not, and I repeat will not be accepted…if you continue this transgression against us, we will respond appropriately, end of talk.”

Bakr's pronouncements came in response to the detention of a number of people by the police including some affilliated with the mosque who were subsequentlyr released without charge.  

At least 24 people, including one government legislator, Leo Des Vignes, were killed when Bakr led 114 members of his Muslim group in coordinated attacks on the Parliament and the Trinidad and Tobago Television station in his attempt to overthrow the then government.

After six days of negotiation, the insurgents surrendered on August 1, and were taken into custody. They were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released. The London-based Privy Council, the country’s highest court, later invalidated the amnesty, but the Muslimeen members were not re-arrested.

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