Carnival dragged into 'War and Terror'
Date: Monday, December 02 @ 10:59:11 UTC
Topic: Trinidad and Tobago
Express TT, Dec. 01, 2002
FBI men in town Investigating threat to attack US, British interests
Intelligence agents from Britain and the United States are now in Trinidad investigating two separate but seemingly related incidences.
One involves a call received by the British High Commissioner on Thursday informing him that a south-based Islamic group, led by one "Abdullah", intends to target British interests in Trinidad and Tobago around Carnival time, 2003.
The other involves another attack threat. According to Sunday Express sources, the US Embassy in Port of Spain was informed five weeks ago about an intercepted cell phone conversation in which Abdullah's name was mentioned. Over the course of the conversation, there was talk about an Islamic group planning to strike against American business interests on December 22. The call was subsequently traced to Cell District 36 which is Cunupia.
A number of FBI agents are now in Trinidad, the most recent of whom arrived on Thursday.
Also here are agents from the British Special Air Services (SAS) also know as "The Tiptoe Boys". The Sunday Express learned that the CIA, FBI and other international agencies have also been in the country on an ongoing basis.
The stepped-up alert in Trinidad followed an earlier report about another Islamic organisation who was said to be planning to kill two US marines in Port of Spain on December 11 in retaliation against US military action in the Middle East. Than plan was apparently aborted after the information leaked out and was openly mentioned by one Muslim leader.
A key focus of the current investigation is the man identified as "Abdullah", who according to one FBI informant, has in his possession copies of plans for the American Embassy and the Twin Towers in Port of Spain.
According to an informant who was recruited ten years ago, Abdullah's organisation (name given but withheld) has ambitions to have an Islamic government installed in Trinidad and Tobago.
The informant said the group has recruited persons through a pyramid system where cells of three to seven persons are formed. Chosen members are said to be given training in information gathering, weaponry and other military type of activities. Some have been sent abroad to establish connections and to further their training in weaponry and military activities. Training is said to be taking place in South Trinidad, Rio Claro, the Northern Range and in an area in Central Trinidad. Two or three individuals are trained at any given time.
Ten months ago, an additional and ongoing programme began in which members are trained to drive big trucks and buses.
The dossier describes Abdullah as a "very powerful, articulate and cunning individual". He is said to be about 35 years old, 5ft 10 ins, and slim-built, weighing around 150 lbs.
The intelligence agents were told that Abdullah's organisation plans to attack US-owned businesses operating in Trinidad and Tobago.
To this end, the informant told the agents that the group brought in a shipment of arms from Germany into the country at the end of June which included pistols, Glocks, Tec-9s and AK47s which was "a gift" for a favour owed. The guns were reportedly brought into the country underwater using "a propeller type instrument and a pulley type vehicle". The guns are said to be kept at various places, locations unknown to the informant who went on to say that Abdullah is in possession of two warheads.
By Darryl Heeralal, Dec. 02, 2002
THE man being sought by US intelligence in connection with reported threats to American interests in Trinidad has been identified as Umar Abdullah, a Princes Town-based radical Muslim who wants to establish an Islamic state here.
The Express learned yesterday that Abdullah heads an organisation known as Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) which publishes a monthly news letter condemning US and British activities in the Middle East, Afghanistan and other parts of the Muslim world.
The news letter openly supports Usama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a "Jihad" (Holy War) against the US and Britain and the setting up of an Islamic State here.
FBI, CIA and British SAS agents are currently in Trinidad investigating separate reports about specific plans to attack local US and British interests.
The US Embassy was informed, some five weeks ago, about plans to attack US business interests in Trinidad on December 22 while the British High Commissioner says its intelligence has been told about plans to attack British interests around Carnival 2003.
In both cases Abdullah and his organisation have been identified as being behind the plans.
Abdullah and his group do not see it as "attacks" on the US or British but as following Islamic teachings.
He intends to set up an Islamic State locally "by following the Our'an and Sunnah (the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammed)," the Express has learned.
Abdullah has not yet been contacted by either US or British intelligence.
When questions were passed on to Abdullah yesterday about whether there was any truth in the intelligence reports there were neither confirmed nor denied.
It was said though that Abdullah's organisation was fighting a "Jihad" and "anything can happen".
Abdullah through his writings has described himself as a "slave of Allah" and believes that once a Muslim "stands firm and practises Islam" he will be targeted.
Abdullah was born, and grew up, in Tableland. He went to both a Presbyterian and Hindu primary school and later to St Stephen's College, Princes Town, an Anglican Church assisted secondary school.
He has two wives, one lives at Princes Town and the other at Chaguanas .He has three children.
Abdullah who is 35, started practising Islam about 20 years ago and has always been described as a "hard line Muslim".
He works as a private investigator and debt collector who "solves peoples' problems with the help of Allah".
Local intelligence including the Special Branch have compiled reports on the activities of Abdullah and his organisation.
It could not be confirmed whether Abdullah and members of his group were involved in military training.
However this newspaper was told that there are people in Trinidad outside of the military capable of operating a nuclear warhead.
The FBI report says that a shipment of guns including AK-47s Tec-9s, and Glocks were bought into the country in June from Germany as a "gift" for a favour owed.
It also said that Abdullah was in possession of two warheads.
Several Al Qaeda agents operated out of Germany during the planning of the September 11 attacks on the US.
Links between Waajihatul Islaamiyyah and several foreign-based radical Islamic groups, possibly including Al Qaeda, Hamas, Jihad and Jamma Islaamiyyah were confirmed.
Hamas is based in Palestine, Jihad in Egypt while Jamma Islaamiyyah is the suspected group behind the Bali bombing.
The Express learned that Waajihatul Islaamiyyah is in communication with these groups and receives donations.
All of these groups have been identified by the US Government as terrorist cells and part of President George W Bush's "axis of evil".