Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Islamic groups in Trinidad

You wouldn't expect the Caribbean to be a growth area for Muslim groups, but Islamic organizations are taking root in the region.

Trinidad, in particular, has attracted the attention of US and regional security officials. There are three Islamic groups in Trinidad that have grown in visibility.

The most well-known of these three groups is the Jammat al-Muslimeen, led by Abu Bakr.

As this Media Line article says:

The Jammat is known almost exclusively as a Black Sunni Muslim organization comprised mainly of Afro-Trinidadian converts to Islam.
The Jammat al-Muslimeen’s ideology and rhetoric mirror that of militant Black ethno-nationalist movements, including the most radical fringes of the Nation of Islam.
At the same time, the Jammat is seen by many locally as a well organized criminal empire involved in everything from drug smuggling, money laundering, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion, with Abu Bakr running the show.

A week ago Friday, Abu Bakr delivered an Eid-ul-Fitr sermon in which he threatened rich Muslims with "war" and "bloodshed" unless they contributed money to him for alms. Abu Bakr was arrested following those statements.

This past weekend, Trinidad officials raided the Jamaat's compound and confiscated some weapons. As a result, Abu Bakr and two youths were denied bail on weapons charges.

The second group in Trinidad is the Waajihatul Islaamiyyah. Again, from the Media Line article:

Like the Jammat al-Muslimeen, the Wajithatul Islamiyyah is comprised mostly of Afro-Trinidadian converts to Islam. Local sources allege that Abdullah harbors extremist leanings. The Waajihatul has been accused of publishing material expressing support for Al-Qa’ida, but Trinidadian authorities have not provided conclusive evidence of any direct links with the group.

The third group is the Jamaat al-Murabiteen, headed by one time Jamaat al-Muslimeen chief of security Maulana Hasan Anyabwile. Anyabwile split with Abu Bakr and the Jamaat al-Muslimeen in 2001.

As this article reports:

Soon after splitting with the Jamaat, Anyabwile was shot at his home and left Trinidad . He is now in England after spending time in Sudan and Egypt.

At a briefing of senior foreign military officials last November the army had said that the Masjid was being scrutinised by the security forces and had called it a "fundamentalist organisation".

Poverty and political instability in the Caribbean can provide a spawning ground for Islamic groups, and attract the attentions of Al Qaeda.

Keep an eye on Trinidad, and the possible threat posed by its local Islamic groups.


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