Skip to comments.Caribbean coup attempt remembered
Posted on 08/29/2002 8:17:34 PM PDT by piasa
Ten years ago, a group of black Muslims tried to overthrow the democratically-elected government of the Caribbean twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago.
One-hundred-and-fourteen members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen group, mostly young black men, took over the island's parliament; held the prime minister and some other members of his cabinet hostage; and stormed the state-run television station.
For many, inside and outside the Caribbean, the 27 July crisis came as a total shock.
The English-speaking Caribbean islands had vowed, following the 1983 American-led invasion of Grenada, never to see democratically-elected structures topple ever again.
The crisis began with the blowing up of the police headquarters building in the capital, Port of Spain.
After that, groups of young Muslimeen, armed with AK47's, swarmed into the parliament building, known as the Red House, and Trinidad and Tobago Television, TTT.
Muslimeen leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, a former Trinidadian policeman, called for public support.
Instead Trinidadians stayed home and watched as the six-day drama was reported on local and regional radio and then picked up by the international media.
The Muslimeen handed over their hostages and surrendered six days later on 1 August.
They continued to argue that they had been granted an amnesty signed by the acting president. Local soldiers instead arrested them and the 115 men faced treason charges.
The case went through to the highest appeal court available to Trinidad and Tobago, London's Privy Council.
The Port of Spain courts eventually agreed that the Muslimeen should be freed in 1992.
While, the local courts upheld the amnesty, the Privy Council ruled it invalid later on but said the Muslimeen members could not be returned in jail.
Ten years on
Hostages and the wider population are still angry today at the events of a decade ago.
The country's National Security Minister Joseph Theodore said his forces have remained vigilant - they still believe the Muslimeen could be a threat.
Trinidad and Tobago remains a population of mostly Hindus, Catholics, with a small Asian Muslim community.
The Jamaat-al-Muslimeen are one of the smallest religious and social groups on the islands of 1.1 million.
The government held a memorial service on Thursday, 27 July for the 24 people who died during the crisis.
Many told the BBC it would be a long time, much longer than a decade for the twin island republic, usually famous for its calypso, carnival, and its steelpan, to forget the time when its peaceful democracy was disrupted.
AMERICAN undercover agents have foiled a plan by the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen to smuggle a cache of assault weapons into Trinidad and Tobago with the arrest of a former member of the sect in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Wednesday.
Keith Andre Glaude, 45, was arrested by agents of the American Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), who set up a sting operation to sell him 60 AK-47s and ten Mac-10 machine guns fitted with silencers.
A leading member of the Jamaat, Olive Enyahooma El, also called Lance Small, was implicated in the bust as the lead contact who set up the buy with ATF Special Agent Steve McKean.
Glaude, who lived at Pelham Street, Belmont, and was a member of the Jamaat before emigrating to the United States in the late 1980s, was yesterday allowed US$150,000 bail with corporate surety (a cash bond) by a Southern Florida District judge.
He is expected to be arraigned (when formal charges are read to him and he is called upon to enter a plea) within ten days.
Glaude was charged with the possession of and transfer of unregistered firearms and silencers and could be jailed for up to ten years for each weapon if found guilty.
In an affidavit, SA McKean said between March and September 2000, he had been contacted by another Jamaat member, who put him on to Small on the pretext that he had guns for sale.
Between April last year and March this year, Small, the affidavit said, agreed to arrange payment and delivery of the guns, saying he was going to send a Mr Mourning to pick up the guns. Mourning (who was later identified as Glaude) contacted McKean on April 17 and 18 to confirm the sale and transfer of the weapons. The deal was finalised several weeks later on May 29.
Then, McKean and Special Agent Vincent Curry met Glaude at a Ft Lauderdale restaurant, where Glaude confirmed he had been chosen and sent by Small to accept delivery of the guns.
He said his job was to pick up the weapons and transfer them to an individual who would export them to Trinidad in a container loaded with furniture.
Glaude guaranteed that the firearms would be exported to Trinidad and Small would easily be able to sell the firearms for a profit, McKean said in the affidavit.
The transfer was arranged for the following day at a controlled site in Ft Lauderdale, but almost didnt come off when Glaude saw SA Currys ankle holster and became suspicious that the two men were US government agents.
He was convinced they were not and told the agents he was only a transporter of the firearms and did not want to get in trouble with the law.
They agreed to meet in the parking lot of the popular Hooters restaurant in Ft Lauderdale the following day. Glaude arrived driving a green Chrysler mini-van and was then taken to a warehouse to pick up the guns.
The meeting was videotaped as Glaude examined 12 blue gym bags containing 60 AK47s and a green duffle bag with the ten Mac-10 machine guns fitted with silencers.
There in the warehouse, Glaude then called Small to confirm he had the weapons and Small then spoke to the SA McKean as well. The weapons were put into Glaudes mini-van and he was then arrested by the undercover agents.
Glaude agreed to co-operate with the agents and said he had been a member of the Jamaat up to the late 1980s. He said he and Small were friends since then and, in 1996, he had borrowed approximately $2,500 from Small.
Glaude said when he came to Trinidad in February this year, Small asked him to contact McKean in South Florida to take the guns and ship them to Trinidad. He said they had no specific agreement as to how much he would be paid, but he assumed that his debt to Small would have been written off and he would receive part of the profit when Small sold the guns.
Miami media reports said the final destination of the guns was Afghanistan for the man the United States has labelled its Most Wanted Man, dreaded terrorist Osama Bin Laden, and that Trinidad was only to be used as a transshipment point for the weapons.
But SA Ed Halley told the Express that, as far as the ATF was concerned, it was destined for Trinidad. He said it was highly probable and not impossible that the guns were to be transshipped to Afghanistan to avoid the tight scrutiny under which any cargo out of Russia or its break-away states are normally subjected to.
Bin Laden and his associates of the Islamic Call Muslim fundamentalist group are accused of two US embassy bombings in Africa. Earlier this week, four of Bin Ladens associates were convicted in New York City for the bombings.
The Express attempted to speak with Small yesterday evening but a visit to his Gonzales home proved futile.
JUNE 3, 2001
By MAURISA FINDLAY
OLIVE Enyahooma El says he is not afraid of any plan by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to extradite him to the United States for his perceived involvement in the arms deal unearthed by undercover agents of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Enyahooma El, who was once known as Lance Small, was on Friday implicated in an illegal arms transaction to ship sophisticated arms and ammunition from Florida to Trinidad and Tobago.
Speaking to the Sunday Express in an exclusive interview at his Gonzales home yesterday, Enyahooma El said he would like the FBI to take him away to the US since he has been longing to visit his relatives domiciled there.
The 65-year old proprietor was relaxing among friends at the incomplete house he is constructing a short distance away from his home. He said he was not afraid for his life. The former insurrectionist said he was being targeted by the FBI as part of an ongoing assault on the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen.
He argued that he was an innocent man and did not play any role in the busted gun shipment. He mocked reports that he had negotiated the deal or that he was acquainted with international Islamic terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Bin Ladens money he opined, so big, a small purse of guns was of no use to him.
But Enyahooma El, casually dressed in track pants, polo T shirt and taj says he is not fearful of any US measures. As a practising Muslim and an active member of the Jamaat, he said he was not surprised by the accusations, trumped up or otherwise. Although he denied any involvement or knowledge of the transaction, Enyahooma El felt his name was also called in the plot because he is a well known friend of the Trinidadian man Keith Andre Glaude, who was arrested for the crime.
Glaude, Enyahooma El said is a good friend.
I know him well, he is my brother...
But their relationship, Enyahooma said, never involved a business transaction of any nature.
When Glaude visited Trinidad recently, Enyahooma El said, they met as old friends and discussed things happening in one anothers life.
He told me about his hustle. I told him about my struggles. That was it. Apart from regular exchanges, Enyahooma El said he asked Glaude during one of their regular interactions to assist, a brother who had telephoned him with a particular need. Although he preferred not to reveal the detail of the brothers need, Enyahooma El said he felt confident Glaude could have assisted.
We Muslims are bounded to help a brother no matter what part of the world he is in...I mention to Glaude while he was here that this brother called on me for assistance and asked him to hook with that brother.
Assuming the needful would have been done, Enyahooma El said he put Glaude out of his mind and went about his business which these days revolves around the completion of his two storey house.
News that he was part of the gun shipment plot, he said, however has left him unfazed.
I didnt even bother to read the newspaper because nothing there is true, Enyahooma El says, adding I know nothing about that matter. I never discussed anything like that with Glaude.
Laughing lightly, Enyahooma El, who described himself as a man with street degree, said he has no reason to believe that his old friend Glaude would have implicated him in the matter.
I have no proof that Glaude called my name so I refuse to believe what is being said.
He was certain the FBI would want to make out a case against him.
They know they will find a way to make their case stick, he said. Let them come with their proof, he calmly said, adding, I dont mind, is years I want to go and visit my family in the States, this might be the trip Ive been longing for.
A picture of El during the coup attempt in TT in 1990:
Even in the Caribbean, muslims are dangerous fanatics who only pretend to play nice until the day they go for the AK-47s.
Islam is fast becoming the default religion for 3rd world criminals and power-seekers
Sooner or later they will give us enough reason, and they will be wiped out.
by Earl Bousquet
In the past week, the St. Lucia Parliament met in joint session for the first time since Independence, Government and Opposition had their say on crime, a new British High Commissioner to St. Lucia presented his credentials to the Prime Minister, thee Standards Bureau threatened to prosecute businesses selling products with labels in foreign languages, Commerce Minister Philip J. Pierre met with poultry processors and KFC to discuss improving standards and the possibility of local purchases by the American fast food giants local outlets, the Prime Minister met with trade unions, business leaders, bank managers and airline executives to discuss the governments proposed response to the deepening global recession, the Tourism Ministry and the top tourism bodies met to chart the industrys response to the challenges and consequences of the terrorist attacks on America and it was announced that CIA agents are combing Caribbean shores in search of persons who received military training in Libya. St. Lucia also learned of the death of Chris Jn Charles, who had won their hearts several months ago.
The historic joint sitting of Parliament was called to discuss crime and resulted in a negative response from the opposition, with MP George Odlum and UWP Senators merely speaking and leaving without bothering to listen to what other MPs had to say. However, the Government spokesmen took the opportunity to air their views on the national crime situation and passed the Motion calling for a national approach to the solution of crime.
However, much of governments business proceeded during the week with much emphasis on St. Lucias response to the worsening global recession and the recent attacks on America. The Prime Minister also reached out to the Governments social partners and other institutions to apprise them of governments response.
During the meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, the Prime Minister was called upon to make a categorical statement on governments response to increasing ties between regional states and local bodies with Libya.
Consequent on the recent visit to Libya by three regional Prime Ministers and the increased attention to Libya by the Americans in their quest to retaliate for the attacks in New York and Washington, it was also reported this past week that agents of the CIA are stalking Caribbean shores in search of persons who may have received military training in Libya.
The word came from Barbados, where a major local newspaper said there was renewed interest at the CIA in relations between the Caribbean and Libya.
The Barbados Advocate, in an editorial in its September 20 issue, said the CIA has renewed its interest in the Caribbean s relations with Libya in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
The paper reported that American intelligence agents are not only hunting for persons with connections to the oil rich African Republic. Their chief interest, it said, is to identify persons who were trained in terrorism there and who may in some way be linked to Osama bin Laden.
The Advocate said the CIAs interest in the relationship between Caribbean political activists and Libya was spawned many years ago -- long before the recent visit by three Caribbean leaders to Tripoli.
It recalled that several Caribbean political groupings had established close relations with Libya over the years, but said the CIAs attention at this point is on Trinidad & Tobagos Jamaat al Muslimeen, which has been under close surveillance since its attempted overthrow of an elected government on the twin island state eleven years ago.
The Advocate said weapons and munitions consigned to the Jamaat were recently intercepted in the USA, but that the Jamaat is also known for its handling of other military hardware, with Prime Minister Basdeo Panday saying the Muslimeen is planning another attempt at violent takeover.
According to the Editorial: The CIA apparently believes the Jamaat and other Trinidadians may be implicated in preparation for a domestic revolt and more especially from a US perspective -- in mass carnage at the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
Concluding that people are categorized by the company they keep, the paper said: If the CIAs investigations confirm current suspicion of a strong connection with Osama bin Laden, whether or not involving the Jamaats leadership, the eyes of the world will focus on Trinidad & Tobago in ways than can do this region no good.
With news of CIA agents combing Caribbean shores in search of persons sent for training in Libya, there is concern in political circles here that their investigations can lead the US intelligence officers to St. Lucia. Thats because one of the islands best known political leaders is known to still have strong ties with Libya and to have sent several St. Lucians for military training there.
Some of the recruits who left here in 1983 under the guise of being students and cultural performers headed for Martinique and Paris -- were intercepted by the police. But others are known to have reached Libya undetected.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister George Odlum, who is now the Political Leader of the opposition grouping called The National Alliance has stoutly defended his strong ties with Libya, even in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack on America.
Mr Odlum also this past week caused a stir among the Caribbeans European Union partners in the trans-Atlantic the banana trade, when he claimed Libya was prepared to pay top dollar for Caribbean bananas. He also announced recently that Libya plans to establish a development bank in the Caribbean to provide financial support for poor states that find it difficult to survive on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) handouts.
But the leaders who traveled to Libya denied ever discussing bananas with Colonel gadaffi and have said theres no truth in the claim by Mr Odlum that Libya was prepared to buy all of the Caribbeans bananas at top-dollar prices.
WIBDECOs Chief Executive Bernard Cornibert, who returned from Europe this week, said purchasers of Windward Islands bananas were concerned that their reliable supplies might end up being sent to Libya. He said he worked overtime to convince them that no decision has been made to change current marketing arrangements and that it would be business as usual.
Mr Cornibert offered the view that it would have meant an end to WIBDECO and the Windwards European market if the islands quota would have been sent elsewhere. He said the press reports had caused quite a stir and EU officials were concerned about the ramifications of such a move.
But perhaps the saddest news of the past week was that of the passing of Chris Jn Charles, who died after a sudden downturn in her medical condition.
The young patient had won the hearts of St. Lucians earlier this year when a special appeal for assistance for overseas emergency treatment resulted in pledges of over $40,000.
She was treated abroad and returned home, but it would appear that the aftercare necessary in such case was either unavailable or her condition was too advanced to have been turned back.
September 25, 2001
Coincidence of expanded relations with Muammar Qaddafi with terrorist attacks in U.S. gives headache to small islands.
© By JOHN COLLINS
Although Washington officials deny it, a behind-the-scenes struggle for the hearts and minds of the people in the small Eastern Caribbean states is underway following a visit by a number of their leaders to the Libyan leader a month ago.
Following the visit the announcement of a Libyan proposal to buy bananas from the islands was rejected by island leaders. Accepted was a program of access to Libyas $2 billion development fund and $21.5 million in loans and grants.
Participating in the visit to Qaddafi were Prime Ministers Pierre Charles (Dominica), Keith Mitchell (Grenada) and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG). Other heads of government, like Prime Ministers Lester Bird (Antigua & Barbuda), Denzil Douglas (St. Kitts & Nevis) and Kenny Anthony (St. Lucia) backed out or sent representatives.
Also traveling to Libya with the group were former St. Lucia foreign minister George Odlum and Antigua & Barbuda newspaper publisher and former member of Parliament Tim Hector, both long time friends of the Libyan leader.
The expansion in relations between the Eastern Caribbean States and Libya couldnt have been timed worse because of their coincidence with the subsequent terrorist attacks in the U.S. Libyas relations with the islands dates back 20 years. The Revolutionary Grenada government (1979-83) had diplomatic relations with Libya and the North African nation had an embassy in Grenada when the U.S.-led invasion took place in 1983. At the time it also had diplomatic relations with Cuba and Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. Now it is linked to the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez through the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) of which both are members.
Since that time Libya maintained a loose association with leftist parties in the islands which were then in opposition and today in some cases control their governments. St. Lucias Odlum has had a falling out with Prime Minister Anthony and Antiguas Hector is no longer in the opposition party there.
Islands feel marginalized by U.S.
The increased activity by Libya in the small islands comes at a time of increasing frustration in them with U.S. policy in the sub-region which has been widely criticized because of the controversy over bananas and declining U.S. assistance. Marginalization is the word often heard. The banana situation has continued under the last three U.S. presidents with successive U.S. governments supporting Latin American exports by U.S. multinationals to Europe which have jeopardized Eastern Caribbean exports.
A close observer of the Eastern Caribbean States indicate that not much is going to come out of the relationship with Libya. He points to the traditionally religious, conservative character of most of the inhabitants of the islands and the fact that many of their relatives live in the U.S. While acknowledging that U.S. policy toward the islands has essentially been one of benign neglect since the end of the Cold War, he indicates that Caribbean immigrants who vote in the U.S. overwhelmingly voted Democratic in 2000 even though President Bill Clinton was a hardliner against the islands on bananas.
Another expert said that relations with Qaddafi, like the friendship which most of the islands have with Cuba, are examples of how they can flaunt their foreign policy independent of the U.S. but theyre not going to go out of their way to harm it either theres too much at stake. He cited the recent visit of SVGs Gonsalves to Havana recently. While conceding that it had been prearranged long before, he said the timing, a week after the terrorist attacks, couldnt have been worse.
Not all of the Caribbean leaders are happy about the Libyan connection. Three, Prime Ministers Lester Bird (Antigua & Barbuda), Owen Arthur (Barbados) and Basdeo Panday (Trinidad & Tobago) have all criticized the visit of their fellow leaders to Libya. Commenting editorially, the Barbados Advocate said Aback of their minds is Libyas dubious record as a haven for insurrectionists and a major training ground for persons who choose violence as a way to gain political power.
CIA watching Trinidad
Now reports have emerged of officials of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) arriving Trinidad in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks to identify persons who trained in terrorism in Libya and who may in some way be linked to criminal mastermind Osama bin Laden, the Saudi dissident suspected of involvement in a series of massacres.
A center of attention there is one Yasin Abu Bakr, a former Trinidadian policeman who now heads Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Black Muslim group. Abu Bakr has close ties to Libya and in fact was also visiting Qadaffi earlier this month. Abu Bakr brags about the assistance he receives from the Libyan leader.
He is notorious for mounting an attempted coup against the government in 1990. Although aborted, it resulted in looting and fires that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Prime Minister Panday has accused the Jamaat of planning another attempted violent takeover. Abu Bakr has denied any connection with bin Laden. Washington is concerned about stability in the twin-island nation which has massive U.S. investment in its oil and natural gas sectors.
A Washington expert on the Caribbean-Libyan connection said that the U.S. isnt going to pay much attention to it. He indicates that Washington has a tacit agreement with Qaddafi that he can do whatever he wants in Africa, the Caribbean or elsewhere, as long as he stays out of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.
December 1, 2001
(For education and discussion purposes)
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