PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Two of the 13 persons detained as part of the investigations into an alleged terrorist plot to destabilise the country during the recent Carnival celebrations, have been remanded into custody after they appeared in court on gun-related charges, their attorney said Friday.
Attorney Lemuel Murphy, who is representing Adil Mansano and Alisha Thomas, said the habeus corpus motion which he had filed on behalf of his clients, was withdrawn after he had been informed by the police that they had been formally charged.
The habeus corpus motion was due to have been heard before Justice Kevin Ramcharan on Friday but when the matter was called, Murphy made an application to withdraw the writ that was aimed at compelling the produce the two people in court and giving reasons for their detentions.
Murphy said he had been told that his clients were now facing gun possession charges and have since appeared before Port of Spain Magistrate Rehanna Hosein where they were remanded into custody.
The police had earlier announced they had released five of the 13 people detained in the alleged plot to destabilise the country during the Carnival celebrations that ended here on Tuesday.
The announcement of the release came as members of the Muslim Round Table met with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams on Thursday.
“We did get some clarification. Of course we, know that it is an investigation that is still continuing. We don’t think there’s any feelings of Islamophobia from the government authorities or the police authorities,” Imam Shiraz Khan of the New Islam Masjid told reporters after the two hour meeting.
He said while the group believed the authorities are doing their job and “that they will bring this to a quick end,” he is hoping that the public will not come to the conclusion that members of the Muslim community, with whom they have co-existed with peacefully for years, “have suddenly become terrorists or criminals and everybody is out to get them.”
Khan said the group had been given an assurance by the Attorney General that “due process was taking place.”
Al-Rawi later told reporters that his ministry has been dealing with writs of habeas corpus for the last several days, adding “and we expect more to come”.
Dillon said that “there is nothing in Trinidad and Tobago’s history that can speak to Islamic prejudice,” saying that the meeting on Thursday was to assure the group that, “the investigations and subsequent arrests of certain people were not targeted in any way to the Islamic community”.
Tariq Mohammed, who was among those released this week, told reporters that he wanted to thank “God and everyone who helped me get through the last six days.
“I went with the police when they came last week, fully intent on co-operating – next minute I was hearing about ‘threat attack.’ Just ludicrous!” he said.
He maintained he had no knowledge of any plot to destabilise the country, adding “ I don’t know anything about what they were talking. As time wore on I realised I wouldn’t get out until Ash Wednesday and just had to be patient. I don’t want to go through this type of thing again. God knows best.
“One thing for sure I’ve learned from this is that Trinidad and Tobago isn’t a draconian military state and I don’t want to see it reach there – home is a great place,” he told the Trinidad Guardian newspaper.
Mohammed’ said the family fully intends pursuing legal action against the state over the detention, adding “we’re now studying, with lawyers, what legal action we have to take on this. We’ll look at apologies and if we should be compensated for all the doors and locks police broke down entering the family home recently.
“There’s also the tarnishing of our family’s name – we’ve never had to deal with anything like this and we’re not going to let it go just like that. The assault on my second son Wasim also is going to the Police Complaints Authority.”
Last Thursday, the police said they had uncovered the plot to destabilise the Carnival celebrations and the United States, Britain and Canada issued advisories warning their nationals of a possible terrorist attack in the twin-island republic.
The police acknowledged that they had received intelligence support from foreign intelligence sources. But while the authorities said that their investigations are continuing, Imam Edoo Mohammed, who was among those released on Thursday night said their release men showed “that the Ministry of National Security’s intelligence apparatus is very weak.”
Meanwhile, the Financial Intelligence Unit of T&T (FIUTT) says there has been a significant increase in suspicious transactions related to financing of terrorism in the past year.
It said that between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017, a total of 112 of the 877 suspicious transaction reports/suspicious activity reports (STRs/SARs) detected were related to suspected financing of terrorism, an increase of 62 per cent from the previous year.
“To date, the FIUTT’s intelligence reveals 251 citizens of Trinidad and Tobago suspected of being involved in the financing of terrorism and related offences,” said FIUTT director, Susan Francois, in the FIUTT’s Eighth Annual Report posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance on Thursday.
“The FIUTT completed analysis on 647 of the 877 new cases received which generated 182 operational intelligence reports, of which 136 related to suspected money laundering and 46 related to financing of terrorism. Of these reports, the FIUTT sent 140 to local law enforcement authorities and 42 to foreign law enforcement authorities and foreign FIUs.”
Francois said the FIUTT has developed three strategic intelligence reports—Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their Facilitation Networks in Trinidad and Tobago, Real Property Fraud and Fraud in the Insurance (motor vehicle) sector—which have been shared with local and foreign law enforcement authorities, FIUs, regulators and other reporting entities. The report on foreign terrorist fighters recommends action to build intelligence and investigative capacity, prevent radicalisation and other deterrents.
She said that 176 money laundering charges involving TT$7.2 million were laid against seven individuals.
“The criminal conduct which led to the money laundering charges were illegal gambling, fraud, larceny and drug trafficking,” she said.
In addition, the Attorney General petitioned the High Court to designate several individuals and entities as terrorists and to freeze their assets.
Francois said the 877 STRs/SARs detected were a record number and an increase of 19 per cent from the 739 in the previous reporting year. The monetary value was more than $22 billion in suspected proceeds of criminal conduct.
“This is an unprecedented increase because the cumulative monetary value of suspicious transactions reported for the previous five years of 2011 to 2016 was only TT$4.5 billion.
“Of the 877 STRs/SARs, 94 per cent were completed suspicious transactions with a monetary value of TT$8.4 billion while six per cent were attempted transactions with a monetary value of TT$13.6 billion.” – CMC