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Suspects still in custody
More hunting and further “operations.”
Police yesterday returned to do searches at the Mohammedville, San Juan home of one of the persons who was detained in Thursday’s investigations concerning a plot to disrupt Carnival.
This was confirmed by official sources as well as Mohammedville residents. But up to 8 pm there was no official word of the release of those who were held on Thursday - or of charges being filed.
Investigations continued yesterday following police searches at homes in the Mohammedville area in the early hours of Thursday, when several people were detained. The Nur-E Islam masjid was also searched.
Police Service Information officer ASP Michael Blackman later revealed police had unearthed “credible information” of a threat to disrupt Carnival. He confirmed the individuals planned to engage in criminal conduct to disrupt Carnival activites.
Those detained included Tariq Mohammed, son of radio announcer Shamoon Mohammed and a member of the Mohammed clan. Mustapha Khan and Fawaz Ali, both of El Socorro, were also detained.
Yesterday there were indications that another person - from Enterprise - was detained. Official sources confirmed that “a lot of operations are going down......”
Mohammed was an Islamic studies student at the University of Medina, Saudi Arabia. When he and his family returned home in 2015 he was interviewed by Special Branch police. After that, on the family’s return to Saudi Arabia he was detained for 16 months over 2015-16, again being questioned by Saudi authorities on suspicion of being linked to terrorism. He claimed to have been subjected to torture and denied any link to terrorism
Mohammed was released and returned home in December 2016. He recently was involved in paramedic studies, his family said.
Another detainee is a Muslim cleric who also studied in Saudi Arabia years ago. He teaches in El Socorro areas, colleagues said
After the men were taken to Riverside Plaza they were separated. Mohammed was moved to Belmont Police Station where he remained yesterday.
Relatives said police on Thursday said they were satisfied there was “nothing on him” and were “just waiting to get directive from superiors for release.” Lawyers representing the detainees said the men could only be held for 48 hours - until early this morning. Mohammed’s attorney said she’d spoken to police at 7 pm and was told there was no update on the situation.
However, meetings were held by police on the issue around mid-afternoon yesterday. Following that, a party of officers returned to the El Socorro residence of another detainee to do searches.
Sources said they were seeking any material - including arms, ammunition - as their search warrant had stated on Thursday. The man’s family said they were bewildered and hadn’t been told anything.
Relatives of the other detainee, who has a wife and seven children, said he hadn’t been brought back to the area.
“We don’t know what he’s being held for, they seem to be now looking for something to hold them on. We don’t know where this is going...” they added.
Mohammed’s father Shamoon told T&T Guardian he’d call police again this morning.
“We’re still awaiting news. But I’m certainly going to update the Police Complaints Authority and Police Commissioner on what’s occurred here,” he said yesterday.
Nur-E Islam has nothing to hide
The Nur-E Islam mosque, which was searched by police at 4 am on Thursday - and to which some of the detainees are affiliated - said it was awaiting evidence for the police’s actions. In a release mosque leadership stated: “We co-operate as much as possible with the authorities for the good of our country. In this regard we acknowledge the professionalism displayed by police officers who conducted a search of the masjid’s premises on Thursday at 4 am.
“Our (congregation) adhered to the laws of the country and have nothing to hide. At the same time we’re concerned about alleged abuse of members of our congregation at their private homes, resulting in serious injuries to at least one person.”
The statement added, “The police have made certain allegations and have detained though not arrested, some Muslim brothers. We await the evidence of their actions.
“As Muslims we don’t condone any of the immoral activities associated with Carnival, but it’s not within Islamic principles to attempt to take matters into our own hands and attempt to disrupt Carnival by causing destruction, harm or injury to people or places. If there was really was such a plot, we totally condemn it. We hope this is a misunderstanding with the Muslims and look forward to justice, honesty and integrity.”
Muslims of T&T PRO Imitiaz Mohammed, who said his niece’s family were affected by Thursday’s Mohammedville search, condemned what he said was police brutality during the search.
“They live downstairs a place the police searched. Her husband was cuffed and their door broken down. Brutality!” Mohammed said.
“This is a conspiracy between T&T’s Government, the police and the US to undermine the Muslim community and make people believe Government’s anti-terrorism bill - expected soon - is necessary. They want to broad-brush Muslims as terrorists, but this aggression could end up creating terrorists.”
He added, “We don’t know who will be next. But this incident will turn off people’s support for the bill. Families affected by this should take legal action.”
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