03 June 2007

Radical Islam in the Caribbean

Seeing the terror plot to hit JFK Airport and Queens, it looks to be time to expand the scorecard of radical Islam in the Western Hemisphere! So, using this threat as a start, lets jump head first into the coups, splits and diversity of the Islamic communities of our Neighbors to the South. And as there is really no good place to start with this, we might as well start with the one currently implicated:

Jamaat al-Muslimeen (JaM)
This fun group of fanatics is headed up by Yasin Abu Bakr, born Lennox Phillips in 1942 he migrated in 1968 to Canada, converted to Islam, and returned to Trinidad & Tobago (TT) in 1970. (From Westernresistance) Of the groups, this one is one of the oldest and one of the more radical as it actually staged a 5 day coup in 1990 to overthrow the government in TT and had been combining North American 'Black Power' ideas with that of Islamic radicalism during the late 1970's and formed into something close to what it is today. JaM, for all of its violence is a minority of a minority inside TT, so the idea of it being a 'liberating' group is a bit far-fetched. During the coup one of Bakr's able lieutenants, Bilal Abdullah, had stated (Paper for Florida International University by Ken I. Boodhoo, 1992 ):

"What we are seeking to do," he asserted, "is to Islamize the society."
From what can be seen they were supplied with the weapons to stage this from an operative in Florida. From the Brady Center comes this lowdown on the actual arming of the coup (pdf here, p. 13/36):
The Jamaat Al Muslimeen had previously done business with Florida gun dealers, and these sellers were willing to meet their ample needs. In 1990, the Muslimeen – armed with weapons purchased at Florida gun stores and shows – tried to topple the government in Trinidad and Tobago. More than 100 rebels set off a car bomb and then stormed into the legislature spraying bullets from the Florida-bought guns. They took over Trinidad and Tobago Television to announce they had seized control. Two dozen people were killed and hundreds wounded during six days of chaos.

The Muslimeen’s gun runner in 1990 was Louis Haneef, a resident of Pompano Beach. Of the 135 weapons used in the coup against the government of Trinidad and Tobago, 105 assault rifles were provided by Haneef. He had told Florida gun shop owners that he needed the weapons for his business, the “All American Gun Club.”38

As was the case with firearms trafficker Donald Fiessinger in Illinois, Haneef was able to accumulate a cache of guns because there are no federal laws limiting the number of purchases by an individual. Haneef was a familiar figure at gun stores and gun shows all over south Florida. “Flashing wads of $100 bills, Haneef bought dozens of assault rifles, shotguns, carbines and pistols.”39

The Muslimeen failed in its coup attempt and eventually surrendered, but the group remains active and has been linked to bomb threats and other insurgent activities in Trinidad.
Now, far be it from me to point out that radical Islamic groups getting automatic weapons and into bombings are *not* the way to dissuade me from purchasing a gun. Just the opposite, really. One does wonder where they get such strange ideas.

The TT Parliament also cites Louis Haneef in this plot during its proceedings (pdf here, p. 25) in 1992. This would not be the only time that JaM came around looking to arm up on the cheap! As I looked at in the post just previous, JaM would be trying to do so again with a much larger cast of characters to get things going:

The Sunday Express was told that the former Muslimeen official, now in a US Witness Protection Programme, is the John Doe witness who testified before a federal grand jury hearing into three counts of gun-running charges against Lance Small aka Olive Enyahooma-El, a high-ranking member of the Muslimeen and a key Bakr lieutenant at TTT during the 1990 uprising.

This newspaper understands that the man, identified by US authorities only as "John Doe", disappeared from the Trinidad scene about a year ago after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Geoffrey Henderson, issued a warrant for his arrest on murder charges.

Reached yesterday, Henderson said he had no comment on the matter.

The John Doe witness is said to have told US authorities of a Muslimeen connection to a terrorist cell in Karachi, Pakistan, and of criminal jobs assigned to him by the Muslimeen hierarchy, including gun smuggling, drug trafficking and the payment of laundered funds to key members of the Mucurapo Road organisation.
You really do have to love these aliases and new names folks get themselves. But I can see where he is coming from because if your name is Clive Lancelot Small then going for a flashy aka like Olive Enyahooma-El has *got* to be a step up in the world. Still, fingering a connection to Pakistan does bring up the question of which radical Islamic group they are affiliated with as there are a few of them in Pakistan.

To do *that* we can also look at that previous post and this from Nazim Baksh, a CBC reporter, who had been reviewing the Islam that he knew and loved as it was corrupted by outsiders in TT, and one of the people he met in his travels trying to understand just *what* had taken over Islam:
In the summer of 1990, three months after I joined the CBC, one hundred very angry Muslim men staged a coup in the twin-island Caribbean state of Trinidad and Tobago. Using an arsenal of illegal weapons they seized control of Parliament, took the Prime Minister hostage and shot him the leg for good measure. They did make him sign a document pardoning them for doing this. The name of this radical group was Jamaat Al-Muslimeen, which translates as “The Muslim Group.”

I knew these characters, had met some of them before, including their leader, Yasin Abu Bakr. I would later run into him while on assignment in the Sudan. There he was sipping tea at the Hilton in Khartoum and complaining to me about how unfair Canadian officials were for not allowing him to visit his family in Toronto. It didn’t take me long to realize that there was a world of difference between the Jamaat’s Islam and mine.
Yes, Yasin Abu Bakr in Sudan. Lovely place where al Qaeda was operating at the time, before the final Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and things getting too hot to stay in Sudan. Basically at that time as a radical Muslim in Sudan you are either with Muslim Brotherhood or al Qaeda. This tie is strengthened by the direct testimony of Janice L. Kephart suring Hearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims on 08 JUN 2006:
There were also reports prior and subsequent to 9/11 U.S.-sought Adnan El- Shukrijumah was living in Trinidad near schools that share his last name. In addition, two men with ties to Trinidad have been arrested in the United States. Keith Andre Gaude, a Jammat linked to bin Ladin, pled guilty on September 19, 2001 to unlawful possession of a machine gun. BATF officials stated he had come to Florida to “buy as many as 60 AK-47 assault rifles and 10 MAC-10 submachine guns with silencers."
She does bring up Shukrijumah, who I will get to farther on, but here the placing of Keith Gaude as the Jammat link to bin Laden is the confirmatory of the Baksh report. The next guy she talks about is a demonstration of the type of terror attack that is customary in other parts of the world:
In 2002, Trinidad native and U.S. naturalized citizen Shueyb Mossa Jokhan was sentenced to 58 months in federal prison for a “jihad” mission that included bombing an electrical power station and a National Guard Armory. According to the FBI, “these attacks were then to be followed by a list of demands to be placed on the United States government and other governments around the world. The defendants also sought to acquire AK-47 type assault weapons for their jihad training and operations, and sought to obtain the release from custody of an individual described as a "mujahedin" fighter committed to jihad.”
We get a bit more on this individual from IAGS Energy Security, more on that later:
In October 2002, Trinidad immigrant Shueyb Mossa Jokhan was sentenced to "nearly five years in federal prison for a terrorist bombing plot," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The report said that Jokhan pleaded guilty to "conspiring to bomb electrical transformers and the Israeli Consulate in Miami." The plan reportedly was "hatched in a Florida mosque" and involved a Pakistani immigrant who recruited Jokhan for the attack.
Say, if Trinidad is such a nice place, how come it incubates such nasty, radical Islamists?

Like 'Buffy'.

Who is 'Buffy', you ask? This 'Buffy' has a long list of aliases, from what I have been able to determine, and is one of those violent sorts that not only does his best to stay one step out of custody but also gets incompetent prosecutors and ends up skating on technicalities. He is
David ‘Buffy’ Millard
aka Edmund DeFreitas
aka Mustapha Abdullah Muhammad (source:
Guyana Chronicle)
aka "Phantom Killers" (from a
web discussion board) - hard to tell if he is one of them or a contact
From Guyana Chronicle and the previous Western Resistance blog we can see he has been involved in: Conspiracy to commit murder of Zaki Aubaidah (Bakr's son-in-law who wanted to leave JaM), Salim ‘Small Slim' Rasheed, Adel Ghany on 04 JUN 2003 and the murder of Jillia Bowen. He was charged along with Mohammed Hassin, aka Joseph Aboud and Brent ‘Big Brent' Miller (source Kaieteur News) for the murder of Jillia Bowen.

Previous Millard had been in the US in NY and Miami in 1980 and graduated from St. Mary's College and was either deported from the US or, by his account, fled from "the underworld" because he was wanted by a few folks. He almost immediately joined up with JaM and formed a close relationship with Bakr. Just before the murders he had been working for the People's National Movement and gotten a Ministerial job doling out funds from the Unemployment Relief Program which, by all accounts, was not run well and highly corrupt at the time. Of course just a few months later he fled the country for Guyana, which has been a haven for criminals on the lam in that region of the world.

In 2005 a series of bombings and killings in Trinidad would also be linked to JaM, starting with 12 JUL 2005 and ending on 14 OCT 2005. On 02 JAN 2006 a Libyan trained member of JaM,
Andre "Baldhead" Bynoe, aka Rasheed Abdul Karim, was killed most likely due to theft of goods at the job he was at.... or, since he was part of the coup, it could be 15 year delayed payback. On 17 FEB 2006 18-year old Zaffir Ali was killed and he was the son of Imam Hassan Ali who is a prominent JaM member. That was most likely due to local gangland violence than anything else. Later that year on 22 AUG 2006 a member who had left JaM, Roger "Black Roger" Bridgeman, was found shot and killed in his car which had been ambushed.

Libya... why, yes, lets hit the Jamestown article on Al-Qaeda's inroads to the Caribbean:
U.S. and Trinidadian authorities have kept a close eye on the Jammat’s activities since the 9/11 attacks, but there is no hard evidence tying the group to international terrorism, let alone al-Qaeda. However, Abu Bakr did maintain links with Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi in the 1980s and 90s and considers him a close friend to this day. The Jammat reportedly received funds through Libya’s World Islamic Call Society (WICS) to finance the construction of its main mosque, schools, and a medical center, but there is no evidence linking Tripoli with the failed 1990 coup attempt. Abu Bakr’s most recent publicized links with controversial international figures include Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
There you have one well connected radical Islamist! al Qaeda, Kadaffy and Chavez! Oh, the article is a couple of years old, so it missed the trial info above to do the al Qaeda tie-in. Now I can already hear the cries of 'Gaddafi is secular and Chavez has no ties to Islam'!

Really?

From Globalsecurity on Gadhafi:
The revolutionary government gave repeated evidence of its desire to establish Libya as a leader of the Islamic world. Moreover, Qadhafi's efforts to create an Arab nation through political union with other Arab states were also based on a desire to create a great Islamic nation. Indeed, Qadhafi drew little distinction between the two.

The government took a leading role in supporting Islamic institutions and in worldwide proselytizing on behalf of Islam. The Jihad Fund, supported by a payroll tax, was established in 1970 to aid the Palestinians in their struggle with Israel. The Faculty of Islamic Studies and Arabic at the University of Benghazi was charged with training Muslim intellectual leaders for the entire Islamic world, and the Islamic Mission Society used public funds for the construction and repair of mosques and Islamic educational centers in cities as widely separated as Vienna and Bangkok. The Islamic Call Society (Ad Dawah) was organized with government support to propagate Islam abroad, particularly throughout Africa, and to provide funds to Muslims everywhere.

Qadhafi has been forthright in his belief in the perfection of Islam and his desire to propagate it. His commitment to the open propagation of Islam, among other reasons, has caused him to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-based fundamentalist movement that has used clandestine and sometimes subversive means to spread Islam and to eliminate Western influences. Although the brotherhood's activities in Libya were banned in the mid-1980s, it was present in the country but maintained a low profile. In 1983 a member of the brotherhood was executed in Tripoli, and in 1986 a group of brotherhood adherents was arrested after the murder of a high-ranking political official in Benghazi. Qadhafi has challenged the brotherhood to establish itself openly in non-Muslim countries and has promised its leaders that, if it does, he will support its activities.
Not only *involved* but pushing his own BRAND of Islam against the Muslim Brotherhood. I bet you thought he was just ordinarily cuckoo.... then there is Hugo Chavez and for that we head back to Ms. Kephart a bit later in the testimony to Congress:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is well known for his violent dictatorship-like leadership, affiliations with Cuba (where his troops are sent for training), and his support of FARC in Columbia (enhancing chaos and violence in that country). In 2001, he signed cooperation agreements with Libya, Iraq, and Iran. On 9/12/01, Chavez ordered government workers to burn U.S. flags in the streets to celebrate the attacks of 9/11.

What is less known is that in January 2003, Chavez’s former personal pilot, having come to the United States after an attempt on his life and claiming political asylum, stated that immediately following 9/11, Chavez ordered the pilot (Venezuelan Air Force Major Juan Diaz Castillo) to "to organize, coordinate, and execute a covert operation consisting of delivering financial resources, specifically $1 million, to [Afghanistan's] Taliban government. The purpose of the “donation” was to “assist the Al Qaeda terrorist organization," while, "making it appear as if humanitarian aid were being extended to the Afghan people."

According to Castillo’s account, one million dollars was delivered to Afghanistan via the Venezuelan ambassador in India. The Taliban acknowledged receiving $100,000 in "humanitarian aid." Castillo said the remaining $900,000 went to al Qaeda. Chavez never answered the allegations, despite public demands to do so.

According to the National Review, Castillo’s allegations are consistent with remarks made by the former head of Venezuela’s border security, who stated that while in that position he was pressured to permit anonymous travel of Middle East and other terrorists passing through Venezuela and to deceive U.S. terrorism investigators. "I quit my job when I got tired of doing dirty work for Chavez with the Cubans looking over my shoulder," he said.
Can't get more supportive of Islam than sending aid to help the Taliban and al Qaeda against the US and putting out the WELCOME mat to Islamic terrorists to help filter them into the US.

Now, since FARC has been mentioned, it is fair game here, in the Latin American part of the Transnational Terror network and there is a doozy from Columbia for those folks who think that a couple of nice documents should do it for verifying folks, and the Jamestown folks are the ones with a great article on this:
Colombian authorities claim to have dismantled an extensive counterfeit passport ring in January 2006 that allegedly supplied an unknown number of Pakistanis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis, and others purported to be working with al-Qaeda with Colombian, Portuguese, German, and Spanish citizenship, enabling them to travel freely in the United States and Europe. Bogota also mentioned that the network had ties to Hamas militants (al-Hayat, January 28; Caracol Radio, January 26).

In contrast, U.S. Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security officials expressed surprise at Bogota's announcement while emphatically disputing its claim, alleging that they had no knowledge of known links between the document forgery operation and any brand of Islamist terrorism, let alone al-Qaeda. Instead, they acknowledged that the sting operation involved Colombians posing as members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's largest and most powerful rebel group, interested in purchasing forged documents and possibly even weapons (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Report, January 27). Washington classifies FARC as an international terrorist organization.

Since the September 11 attacks, Washington fears that radical Islamist terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda may exploit Latin America's porous borders, endemic corruption, and weak institutions to gain a foothold in the region in order to infiltrate U.S. territory or to stage attacks against vital U.S. interests in the region. Many observers believe that Colombia, a strong ally of Washington, with its vibrant narcotics trade, ongoing insurgencies, robust energy reserves, and proximity to the Panama Canal and other vital shipping lanes, represents an ideal target.

FARC's extensive involvement in the drug business and its documented ties to regional and international drug cartels and organized crime, coupled with the control it wields over large swathes of Colombian territory out of Bogota's reach, is of particular concern. In a worst case scenario, Washington worries that al-Qaeda may cultivate alliances of convenience with organizations such as FARC or others involved in the drug trade in order to raise finances or procure armaments. At the same time, it is important to note that there is no credible evidence pointing to this kind of formal cooperation. At the very least, however, terrorist organizations can exploit established money laundering and finance networks used by narcotics traffickers and organized crime syndicates in the region, especially the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE), to fund future operations (El Siglo, June 25, 2003).

It is against this background that Colombian and regional governments have played on U.S. concerns by moving to curry favor with the U.S. to further their own domestic agendas and international standing in the context of the Bush Administration's war on terrorism. In doing so, they often highlight the alleged threat of al-Qaeda or other brands of radical Islamist terrorism within their own borders.

Based on the evidence, this latest attempt by Bogota is a case in point in that it likely represents an effort to enhance its position in the eyes of Washington and the international community in its longstanding war with FARC guerillas. Since one of the alleged members of the smuggling ring, Jalal Saadat Moheisen, happened to be of Palestinian descent, it is likely that Colombia seized the opportunity to win political points in Washington by pointing to a possible link to Middle East terrorist networks.

What makes Colombia's bold claims especially interesting is that the sting operation was in fact led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and other investigators, who worked in concert with their Colombian counterparts in the Department of Administrative Security (DAS).

Normally, references to alleged al-Qaeda infiltration are enough to gain the attention and headlines governments in Latin America seek. For example, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras have pointed to alleged al-Qaeda links with the Maras street gangs that terrorize their cities. Mexican officials have hinted at al-Qaeda involvement with rebel indigenous groups in Chiapas. Trinidadian authorities have employed similar tactics when it comes to discrediting their own homegrown Islamist opposition centered in the Afro-Trinidadian Muslim community.

U.S. concern over the strong showing by Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections is likely responsible for Bogota's decision to include Hamas alongside al-Qaeda in its recent claims of radical Islamist involvement in the document forgery ring.
Ok, count all the various actors there! Some of it, to be sure, is probably overblown, but just how long HAS that ring been operating? Perhaps not operating a lot with al Qaeda, but can anyone say that it definitively *hasn't* in the past. Also I do need to remind folks that FARC tried to Assassinate a recent sitting President and is now looking to leverage *that* against the US Congress to get a break from having too much funding go to Colombia. And I go through the entire person to person setup of such things and how they work in this post, so I won't go into it here except to say it is a huge concern as it allows for distributed money laundering that is damned near untraceable.

And, speaking of organized crime, the Jamestown folks do a good look at that and terrorism in the Latin America with this article from which I will extract just a bit on Suriname:
Reports that Jamaat al-Fuqra (JF), an obscure Muslim group with branches in Pakistan and North America that has been linked to terrorism and crime, is making inroads into the Caribbean, especially among Afro-Caribbean Muslim converts and East Indian Muslims in nearby English-speaking Trinidad and Tobago and neighboring Guyana, raise concerns about Suriname (The Trinidad Guardian, April 8). Sheikh Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, JF's founder and leader, is believed to have spearheaded the movement in Pakistan in the early 1980s. Gilani also heads the International Quranic Open University (IQOU), which is affiliated with the Muslims of the Americas (http://www.iqou-moa.org). JF has been implicated in a series of murders and bomb plots targeting religious and ideological rivals in the United States and Canada. In the United States, JF is comprised primarily of African-American Muslim converts. The group is best known for establishing a number of isolated rural communities across the United States for its members (Terrorism Monitor, August 10).

Organized Crime and Corruption

In June, Shaheed "Roger" Khan, also known as "Short Man," a Guyanese national of East Indian descent and reputed narcotics and arms kingpin wanted by U.S. authorities on an outstanding warrant for crimes committed while residing in the United States, was arrested in the Surinamese capital of Paramaribo; three Guyanese associates and eight Surinamese nationals were also apprehended. Khan is believed to have fled his native Guyana after being implicated in the theft of arms from the Guyanese armed forces. He is known locally as a key player in the drugs and arms trade between Guyana and Suriname. Both countries are experiencing an alarming increase in organized criminal and violent street gang activity (Guyana Chronicle, June 18).

Surinamese sources claim that Khan was planning to assassinate Surinamese government and judicial officials, including cabinet members (Guyana Chronicle, June 19). The sting operation that led to Khan's arrest yielded over 200 kilos of cocaine and an assortment of arms. Paramaribo expelled Khan to nearby Trinidad for entering the country illegally. Trinidad denied Khan entry into the country because he lacked valid travel documents. He was subsequently handed over to U.S. officials and is currently awaiting trial in a U.S. jail on drug trafficking charges (Caribbean Net News, June 19).

There is no evidence that implicates Khan in terrorism. Nevertheless, the relative ease in which Guyana's most wanted man fled to Suriname along with a cadre of trusted cohorts to continue his lucrative criminal enterprise underscores Suriname's vulnerability in the eyes of security officials. In fact, both Suriname and neighboring Guyana have served as sanctuaries for high-profile criminals on the run. David "Buffy" Millard, a member of Trinidad's Jamaat al-Muslimeen, was arrested in Guyana recently and extradited to his native Trinidad to face murder charges (Trinidad Guardian, May 6). In another case, Brazilian authorities implicated Surinamese security officials in an illicit arms trading network that allegedly smuggled weapons to criminal gangs in Brazil, including violent groups such as the Red Command and the First Capital Command. Both organizations are involved in a lucrative drug and arms trade based out of Brazil's impoverished favelas (urban slums) and prisons (Caribbean Net News, February 3).
Jamaat al-Fuqra, huh? This is getting to be old home week! My post on their outpost in Georgia, USA is here and lets just say that it is more than a bit worrying. And that gets us to the Tri-Border Area and another link back to JaM and all sorts of fun goodness!

We haven't even GOTTEN to the splinter groups of JaM yet! You can't have a radical Islamic group *alone*.... oh, no, it has to splinter into a couple of groups so they can all get riled up at each other, find different backers and affiliates and then start killing each other. But I will be kind and leave off here, because this is a boatload to digest. And the other players in the JFK plot haven't gotten their time in the spotlight.

2 comments:

Scott said...

Thank you for putting all of this together. Fascinating. I linked back to this my own blog post for today.

A Jacksonian said...

Scott - My thanks!

It has taken a lot to get all of this out in a semi-coherent form.