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Griffith on Bakr’s statement: Any coup will be crushed in hour
If an attempted coup, like the one which took place in July 1990 by the Jamaat al-Muslimeen, was to occur today it would be suppressed within an hour, claimed Minister of National Security, Gary Griffith yesterday after unveiling a new Emergency Dispatch Centre and Community Comfort Patrols (CCP) pilot programme at the St James Police Training Academy. Earlier in the week, Abu Bakr had voiced statements in a media interview which were widely interpreted as a threat to Griffith, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Inspector Roger Alexander after 18 arrests were made after evening prayers at a Carapo mosque on Tuesday. “The statement made by Mr Bakr is one law enforcement agencies will look at,” said Griffith, “but I’m sure there is absolutely no need for alarm in any way whatsoever.”
He said security measures and intelligence gathering were “much better now than in 1990,” as the various agencies were working together and not “tripping over each other and competing for information.” He said information was now being turned into “real-time intelligence.” These improvements, as well as a special operations group, “highly trained to deal with any situation of hostage negotiation, anti-terrorist drills or any type of insurrection,” Griffith suggested, meant there was no reason for the public to be concerned about Bakr’s statements.
“I wish to assure the nation that we are fully prepared,” he continued, “and what may have happened in 1990, which took five six days to quell, if any group decides to do the same thing, rest assured that this will be dealt with within an hour.”
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said yesterday he did not see the statements of Abu Bakr as a threat. He made the comment after receiving a fourth extension from the Police Service Commission yesterday. Saying Bakr had chosen his words carefully, Williams added: “He speaks to appropriate action. What will be the appropriate action? “I know for a fact it will be easy for us to jump from one point to say he was responsible for leading an attempted coup and if he makes reference to appropriate action it may be linked to a piece of action like that but it doesn’t necessarily mean that.”
Bakr made the comments on Wednesday, four days before the 24th anniversary of the 1990 attempted coup. Giving an update on the arrests of 18 people held at the mosque, Williams said warrants would be executed on those for whom the police had warrants and they would then appear in court. He said where there was insufficient evidence those people would be released.
On Wednesday night family and friends of those detained staged a vigil and protest outside the La Horquetta Police Station, calling for the immediate release of the detainees. —Reporting by Geisha Kowlessar and Jensen La Vende
A release by the National Operations Centre (NOC) yesterday stated that all arms of the protective services were out in their numbers to protect and serve. The statement, signed by head of the NOC Garvin Heerah, read: “Recent developments, comments and actions have engaged the prioritised attention of all members of the armed forces and they are treating with this as we speak. “The NOC advises further that all citizens continue to work with law enforcement and national security services as we seek to ensure a safe and secure TT.”