Memo on alleged Jamaat al Muslimeen plot in Trinidad real; the threat itself, not so much

stephen williams

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday July 30, 2015 –Police chief Stephen Williams has ordered an investigation into how a confidential memo from the Special Branch, about an alleged plot by the Jamaat al Muslimeen to attack Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s homes and break out the men charged with the murders of a prominent prosecutor and businesswoman, was leaked to the public.

While acknowledging that the July 28 memo issued by the Head of the Special Branch was authentic, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday told journalists that the same could not be said for the claims it contained.

At the same time, head of the Jamaat al Muslimeen Yasin Abu Bakr denied there were any such plot by his organization, charging that there were people trying to destabilize the country and insisting that Jamaat was no threat to the people of the twin-island republic.

The memo which began circulating on social media yesterday afternoon, stated that information had been obtained that Jamaat was planning to target Persad-Bissessar’s two private residences; free the 11 men charged this week with killing senior counsel Dana Seetahal as well as the 12 on trial for murdering businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman; and target police stations.

confidential memo on threat

The memo which was circulated on social media.

The correspondence, which was stamped ‘CONFIDENTIAL’, went on to instruct all Special Branch field sections to investigate the veracity of that information.

It was signed by a superintendent of police on behalf of the Special Branch head and circulated on Tuesday evening after information about the alleged plots reached the Special Branch, Commissioner Williams confirmed at a press conference called a few hours after the memo went public.

The top cop said the information on which the memo was based has not been verified and it would therefore not have been communicated to either him or the Prime Minister.

Adding that the Special Branch would normally issue memos like this about “any rumour they would have received”, he said it was “nothing unique and nothing special”.

However, Williams said: “What is unique in this particular instance is that a communiqué like that, which is limited to the officers of SB, would have reached out into the public domain.”

“That breach of confidentiality is one which would have been effectively facilitated by a member of the Special Branch. An investigation has effectively been launched to verify which member of the SB has been responsible for that breach of confidence and confidentiality, and the appropriate action will be take in accordance with the law,” he added.

Williams said he expected a report on that probe by next Monday, August 3.

The memo was issued two days after 11 members of Jamaat appeared in court for the Seetahal murder and were remanded to prison. Those charged with Naipaul-Coolman’s murder are also connected to Jamaat.

But Abu Bakr, who led the July 27, 1990 attempted coup, has distanced his organization from the alleged plots.

“There appears to be persons spreading rumours, with a view to causing mischief to destabilize our country,” the Imam said in a statement, adding that any issues Jamaat had were being dealt with legally.

“There is no threat to the population of Trinidad and Tobago by the Jamaat al Muslimeen.”

Abu Bakr further called on police to “act within the constraints of the law to take every precaution to avoid discrimination against Muslims”.

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