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Abdullah on ‘warpath’ after name called

Published: 
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Anti-terrorism Bill debate
Islamic Front Leader Umar Abdullah

To say Islamic front Leader Umar Abdullah is displeased with the Government naming him among reasons for enactment of the Anti-terrorism Bill is putting it mildly.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, in last week’s debate on the Anti-terrorism Bill, said T&T-born Shane Crawford’s internationally publicised support for the Islamic State terror put “T&T on the world map of terrorism” and Abdullah had also told National Geographic that he at one time supported Isis ideology.

Al-Rawi noted the impact of such statements on T&T’s economy and reputation. But Abdullah, incensed, felt he was named “...Because I’ve been calling Government out on everything and they want to drive a wedge between me and the Muslim community. But I won’t be silenced. I intend starting public meetings from next month with other speakers–Muslim and non Muslim—on governance past and present. I’m deeply rooted in communities and I’ll call people out to speak wherever I go and I’m continuing speaking to foreign media.”

Al-Rawi in debate said three nationals have officially been listed as terrorists: Crawford, his colleague Milton John Algernon, and Kareem Ibrahim. The latter was accused of planning to blow up JFK Airport in the US.

Crawford was listed on March 31, 2017, Algernon on June 12, 2017, and Ibrahim, December 2015.

Crawford, his wife, Jamilla Luqman, and Algernon were charged in 2010 with arms and ammunition possession and after being arrested in the 2011 state of emergency, the men and their families left for Syria in 2013.

Algernon, an ex-director of the Agricultural Society and Sheep and Goat Society, was reportedly killed in battle in Syria in the second week of July 2015. He went there with his second wife–daughter of an imam of a South mosque—but has other family still here, sources said.

While Crawford’s mother, Joan, said she doesn’t “take on anything about her son any more,” former colleagues are still puzzled why Algernon took up an extremist lifestyle. One said: “He was a good farmer, but there were issues after he was held with Crawford on various matters.”

Al-Rawi, during debate, also named one “Glasgow”. A security intelligence list of 105 people–men, women and children—who went to the Middle East over 2013/15, lists a Glasgow of south Trinidad. It stated he left T&T in 2014 for Egypt and was expected to head to Syria via Turkey.

Muslim Roundtable co-ordinator Hafeez Khan said following passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill: “It’s sufficiently tough to deter people from wanting to go join terrorist groups again–people know the risk now.”

British scholars were in T&T last week to continue meeting Muslim groups to discuss theological issues including how aspects of the religion might be taken out of context. (See Page A18)

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