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US, UK warn citizens, local Muslims angry

Friday, February 9, 2018

Assurances from Government on T&T’s safety, immediate warning about T&T from foreign countries - and anger from some Muslim groups.

That’s the fall-out from yesterday’s revelation by police that several people had been held concerning a plot to disrupt the Carnival.

Confirming the situation, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said last night Government and security forces had for some time been on top of monitoring the situation concerning the threatened plot.

The T&T Guardian ascertained that several people - including three from El Socorro and one from Sangre Grande - were held and being questioned by police.

The Islamic Front said police executed simultaneous searches at the Nur- e Islam mosque in Aranguez, Munroe Road masjid and other jamaats in Sangre Grande, Bamboo, Valsayn and Laventille.

The US Embassy and UK High Commission immediately warned their citizens in T&T of the threat. Immediately after the police briefing, the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain, via statement, said, “The T&T Government recently disrupted a plan to attack the Carnival. In light of the recent operation the T&T Government is taking additional active steps to secure Carnival events out of an abundance of caution.”

The advisory warned US government personnel “to exercise additional caution and increased situational awareness if they participate in Carnival events” and keep “a low profile.”

By 8 pm, the UK also posted a website notice saying, “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in T&T... attacks could be indiscriminate, including in crowded spaces and places visited by foreigners. The T&T authorities have arrested some individuals who planned to carry out attacks against Carnival on 12 and 13 February 2018; an attack is still possible.

“The T&T government is increasing security measures for the Carnival; you should remain vigilant and avoid crowded places and large gatherings.”

Yesterday’s revelations occurred in the absence of National Security Minister Edmund Dillon who was on overseas business. Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses, acting for Dillon, didn’t reply to calls.

However, Al-Rawi, commenting on the police claims said, “The National Security Council had been fully updated on all positions the TT Police service spoke to (yesterday) on the state of preparedness. This (revelation) was a situation that was constantly being monitored and aggressively managed to ensure the safety of all in T&T.

“We’ve been on top of this (situation) for quite some time, aggressively managing it. What we were aware of was the result of a significant amount of work.”

Al-Rawi added, “The bottom line is at this time of year and throughout the year, one has to be vigilant and vigilance is being exercised. And Carnival is a very special time, be assured there is a significant and abundant supply of law enforcement in and about T&T.”

Yesterday’s police raids at some mosques have been criticised by some Muslim groups.

Islamic Front headed by Umar Abdullah accused police of seeking to “to further oppress and target Muslims.”

“We regard the recent searches by police officers at (mosques) - Nur e Islam, Munroe Road, Sangre Grande, Bamboo and Laventille jamaats - over the last few hours, as juvenile, baseless, and a clear indication of the vendetta and dislike of the state towards Muslims in this country.”

Calling on the Police Commissioner for answers, Abdullah said: “We believe this a sour, pathetic attempt by the state to persecute Muslims and under the guise of ‘raids and searches’ to disrupt the Muslim community.”


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