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Guns, ammo hidden in mosque’s ceiling
A high-powered assault rifle was among a cache of guns and assorted ammunition that was found on the Munroe Road, Chaguanas property of the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen yesterday morning.
Police said at about 8.30 am, a team of workers who are currently conducting maintenance works on the ceiling in the ladies section of the mosque, found several black garbage bags stashed away in the ceiling.
The workers retrieved the bag and to their shock found the weapons and ammunition. The workers went to mosque’s office and reported their findings to Maulana Saeed, who contacted Imam Shiraz Ali. Ali then contacted officials at the Ministry of National Security and T&T Police Service.
A party of police, including Central Division Task Force and CID officers, went to the mosque and retrieved the bags, which contained two shotguns, two pistols and an assault rifle together with an undisclosed amount of assorted ammunition.
In an immediate reaction to the find, a staff member at the mosque sent out a voice message to Darul Uloom staff informing them of the find and asking that they not be alarmed. The male voice indicated that “it was no little find like little gun and thing…it was big.” He then ended the voice note by saying: “May Allah guide us…Assalamualaikum (a Muslim greeting that means Peace be unto you.”
The Masjid subsequently issued a statement saying the illegal firearms and ammunition were secreted there by persons unknown and condemned the act.
“This organisation does not condone any form of illegal activity. Those persons who planted these illegal items in our place of worship did so without the knowledge of the spiritual and administrative leaders of the masjid and our membership,” the statement read.
The administrators also gave assurance that they will co-operate with the police “in every way possible to discover the identities of those person or persons who are responsible for bringing illegal guns and ammunition into the masjid.”
It also noted that the doors of the masjid are open to all Muslims and non-Muslims and added that it has no formal security arrangements in place as it is “a place of worship where our members engage in fellowship, pray and social activities.”
With the holy month of Ramadan in its last ten days of the 30-day fast, Masjid officials said they were in shock.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, an official, who wished not to be identified, said they asked the police to conduct a thorough search of the entire compound to ensure no other guns, ammunition or other illegal items were hidden on the premises. Asked if the find hindered fasting Muslims from coming to the mosque to break their fast after 6 pm last evening, the official replied: “No...the usual numbers came out. People expressed concern because it is normal but we are all hoping that the people behind this are caught. Allah knows best.”
An investigating officer extended kudos to the workers and the mosque’s officials for informing them of the find.
“This could have gone otherwise and by them not hiding this by itself proves a lot,” the officer said.
Asked if the find had any connection to do with the increasing gang activities and shootings between members of the Unruly Isis and the “Muslims,” the officer replied: “We have no such information. This could be an isolated incident.”
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