By NALINEE SEELAL, newsday.co.tt
Government's drastic anti-crime initiative paid off yesterday, when a large contingent of police and army officers from the Special Anti-crime Unit (SAUTT) and other sections of the Police Service raided the Jamaat al Muslimeen compound at Mucurapo Road.
Armed with search warrants and metal detectors, the officers surrounded the Jamaat compound from as early as 4 am, and ordered that no one enter, or leave.
The action took place while Jamaat al Muslimeen Leader Yasin Abu Bakr was in a cell at the Port-of-Spain CID awaiting his court appearance on four charges arising out of statements allegedly made during Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the Jamaat compound.
He was only told of the raid at the mosque while he was at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court.
Newsday learnt that officers found a hand grenade, several rounds of ammunition, and an assault rifle. The items were placed in a heavily tinted vehicle and taken to the St James Police Station.
Ten persons were detained as a result of the exercise at the mosque. While those searches were taking place at the Jamaat, SAUTT officers raided four homes which Bakr usually occupies.
The homes were searched in Diego Martin and Port-of-Spain.
Indrani Maharaj, one of Bakr's wives, was at the Mucurapo compound monitoring the raids, chatting away on her cell- phone.
A number of mosques affiliated with the Jamaat al Muslimeen were also searched. Yesterday, Police Commissioner Trevor Paul sent out messages to all police stations to double up sentry duty. Officers were also told to be on high alert.
That same message was sent to Regiment and Defence Force officers.
Paul yesterday said that all information pertaining to the raids will be revealed.
Arouca prison for Jamaat leader:
No bail for Bakr
By FRANCIS JOSEPH
YASIN ABU BAKR spent last night at the Maximum Security Prison at Arouca after he failed to secure bail on four charges, including sedition, arising out of statements he allegedly made at Eid celebrations at his Mucurapo Road mosque last Friday.
Despite pleas from Bakr's attorney Wayne Sturge, Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls turned down the application and remanded the Jamaat leader to prison. But Bakr was advised that he could apply to a judge in chambers for bail. Sturge confirmed last night that such an application will be made this morning before Justice Herbert Volney in the Port-of-Spain High Court.
Bakr, 64, was arrested at 12.20 am on Tuesday at his La Puerta Road home in Diego Martin. But it was only yesterday morning that Bakr was formally charged by acting Insp Christopher Holder of the Port-of-Spain CID. Amid tight security, Bakr was brought to the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court at 9.35 am. Thirty-five minutes later, he was before the Chief Magistrate where the four charges were read to him.
Mc Nicolls: What is your proper name?
Bakr: Yasin Abu Bakr.
Mc Nicolls: How do you spell Abu?
After the charges were read, Douglas Mendes SC, leading Dana Seetahal for the State, objected to bail. He pointed out that Bakr allegedly committed the offences while on bail on a charge of conspiracy to murder. Mendes said the charges for which Bakr was before the court were serious, pointing out that the penalty for sedition was a $20,000 fine and five years in jail. He said Bakr could be a flight risk, especially at his age of 64. Mendes then raised the events of July 1990, when Bakr led an armed assault on the country. However, Mc Nicolls asked, "Isn't that something way back?" Mendes said the prosecution was entitled to take that into account.
He said Bakr's association with convicted gun runner Lance Small should also be taken into account. Saying that Small could have been the number two man in the Jamaat, Mendes said he was extradited to the United States and convicted of being in possession of 60 AK-47 rifles, ten Mac-10 weapons and silencers.
Mendes was about to mention yesterday's raid at the Jamaat's premises, but he was stopped in his tracks by the Chief Magistrate. In response, Sturge pointed out that Bakr had no previous convictions. He said the State could not take into account the conspiracy to murder trial against his client, which was still pending. He said Bakr was not a flight risk, having attended court on about 60 occasions without fail. Sturge said the offences for which Bakr was charged were bailable and his client was entitled to bail. He said Bakr's name was not mentioned in the Small trial and that his client "remains a man of good character."
Mc Nicolls, however, was not impressed with Sturge's submissions. He accepted the prosecution's submission that Bakr allegedly committed the offences while on bail.
YASIN ABU BAKR, aka LENNOX PHILLIP, of La Puerta Road, Diego Martin, on Friday 4th November, 2005, at Mucurapo Road, St James, unlawfully incited persons present at the Eid celebrations in the Mucurapo Mosque to commit a breach of the peace by enforcing the collection of zakaat against members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen.
Unlawfully incited persons present at the Eid celebrations in the Mucurapo Mosque to demand with menaces or by force, property of (Senator) Noble Khan with intent to steal the same.
Unlawfully incited persons present at the Eid celebrations in the Mucurapo Mosque to demand with menaces or by force property of members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen.
In the presence and hearing of persons at the Eid celebrations in the Mucurapo Mosque uttered a seditious speech the purport of which was to engender and promote in his listeners feelings of ill-will or hostility between members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen on the one hand and other members of the Muslim community who are not members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen on the other hand.
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