Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 2nd 2017 Contents news A5
Thursday, February 2, 2017 guardian.co.tt
After some T&T Muslim families
encountered problems with US immi-
gration authorities in recent weeks---
including visa cancellation---attorney
Nafeesa Mohammed is calling for T&T
and US authorities to find mechanisms
to ensure people are fairly treated.
"... Before this situation reaches paranoia
level---which is already building ---T&T and
US authorities should try to deal with the
situation via diplomacy and dialogue to pre-
vent unfair targeting," Mohammed told the
T&T Guardian yesterday.
Her call comes three weeks after some of
her relatives encountered issues with US
Immigration on landing in America. One
family member was questioned about their
relationship to her nephew, Tariq Moham-
Tariq, son of her brother Shamoon Mo-
hammed, was an Islamic studies student in
Saudi Arabia for several years. He and his
family returned home for a visit last Au-
gust 15, when he was interviewed by Special
Branch. When the family returned to Saudi
Arabia via Turkey as they usually did, he
was detained in Saudi Arabia on suspicion
After the Mohammed family lobbied for
his release---stating he was innocent---Tariq
was released and sent home just before
Yesterday, Mrs Mohammed said, "Because
my name has been heard in connection with
persons who were detained, I'd like to ensure
the process is fair and my names---and oth-
ers'---isn't red-flagged for the wrong reason.
"I'd like to know what mechanism exists
through our Government officials to ensure
innocent people aren't treated unfairly. The
current situation has created uncertainty
in our family."
She added, "I'm sure Government can help
get mechanisms in place with US collabora-
tion to help TT nationals travelling to the US
to verify if they've been red-flagged in any
way and give us the opportunity to go before
any authority and help clear our names.
"A lot of stereotyping is occurring, pre-
senting awkward, arbitrary and sometime
discriminatory situations which are harsh
and oppressive. We live in a democracy and
always had good US relations."
T&T Guardian checks in other Muslim
quarters revealed that other Trinis encoun-
tered similar issues, but these pre-dated last
week's US visa ban on seven countries.
Sources, who requested anonymity for
the people involved, confirmed that another
Muslim family---related to Tariq Moham-
med--- also encountered difficulties on a
trip to Miami in January. The family was
kept in a room overnight and questioned
and their visas were eventually cancelled.
They were told their visas had an error and
they returned to T&T after release.
A young South engineer, who travelled
to Fort Lauderdale last November, was also
questioned on arrival, his visa was cancelled
and he was sent back to T&T, the T&T
A Port-of-Spain businessman who has
long-standing business ties with the US,
was also called recently and his visa was
cancelled, it was confirmed.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses---
unavailable yesterday to comment on Mo-
hammed's concerns---had said on Tuesday
that T&T recognises the sovereign rights of
the United States, or any other country, to
grant or deny entry of nationals of other
countries into the US.
Moses said so regarding concerns by T&T
green card holders about issues they could
encounter on seeking to re-enter the US if
they visit T&T for Carnival 2017.
The concern comes following last week-
end's US executive order stipulating a 90-
day visa ban on seven countries---Syria, Iran,
Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan---to
secure the US from terrorism.
Contacted on the Mohammed family case
yesterday, US Embassy officials said issues
concerning people landing in the US were
handled by Homeland Security.
Clarifying concerns by T&T nationals
about the executive order, Embassy offi-
cials said the visa ban doesn't affect T&T
nationals who are permanent legal residents
of the US and who hold TT passports. It
also does not affect T&T citizens holding
dual citizenship of other countries, who use
The Embassy stated: "TT citizens who are
legal permanent residents of the US---and
are not dual nationals of one of the seven
countries affected by the US executive
order---are not affected by the (executive)
They said clarifications are still incom-
ing. On whether T&T nationals may be red-
flagged by the US because of the 130 T&T
nationals which Government confirmed
have been involved in terrorist activities
overseas, Embassy officials said there was
no visa ban on several other countries where
foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) have orig-
"The United States and T&T share many
common interests, including economic, cul-
tural and family ties, as well as a commit-
ment to collective security. The US Embassy,
and the government we represent, works
very closely with the Government of T&T on
a wide range of issues in the area of security,
including counter terrorism and countering
violent extremism. We value the partnership
we have with the T&T Government, as it
helps keep the people of both our nations
A soldier and another man, who were alleg-
edly held with a pistol, 140 rounds of ammuni-
tion and firearm components, were granted a
combined $.5 million bail in the Princes Town
Magistrates Court yesterday.
Kareem Burton, 23, and Antares Khan, 25, were
not called to plead to any of the charges when they
appeared before Senior Magistrate Gail Gonzales.
The men, both of Princes Town, were arrested
on Monday at Indian Walk, Princes Town, after po-
lice intercepted a car in which they were allegedly
The charges alleged that at Loney Road, they had
in their possession a Taurus 9mm pistol; 30 rounds
of .9 mm ammunition; components of a firearm
namely two extended magazines and 107 rounds
of .9 mm ammunition, one round of 7.62 ammu-
nition and two rounds of .40 calibre ammunition.
In asking for bail, attorney Keith Beckles said
Burton was a serving member of the T&T Regiment
with no previous convictions or pending matters. He
said Khan had one pending matter, but no previous
convictions. He also submitted that both men were
not flight risks.
Burton was granted $200,000 bail while Khan
was granted $300,000 bail, both with clerk of the
peace approval. The matter was adjourned to March
1 for disclosure.
Recruits joining Isis for Islam, $$
About five people from the Nur-E-
Islam mosque in El Socorro, San Juan,
who joined the Islamic State terror
network in Syria, may have gone be-
cause they believe it is a genuine Islamic
struggle---or may have gone for financial
This was the view of Nur-e-Islam Imam
Shiraz Ali, as he responded to claims by Na-
tional Security Minister Edmund Dillon that
130 nationals have joined terrorist groups
Ali added, "One of the five who went, Mi-
kail, died last year. We haven't seen signs
of any more people wanting to go. We feel
people have gone past the stage of wanting
to go there, or they've realised the money
wasn't what they thought it would be. Also,
it's harder to go now."
Islamic front leader Umar Abdullah added,
"People who have joined terrorist activities
overseas have done so 'to help Muslim broth-
ers and sisters as they have nothing to hold
them in T&T.'
"If you don't want your child to run away,
you have to start listening to your child. If
T&T isn't conducive to growth and develop-
ment, people will want to leave to establish
a space of their own."
He said people were also not feeling safe
due to economic issues and crime. "They're
making a big hullabaloo about the Isis threat,
but up to now there's been no act against
T&T by Isis.
"We seem to be focussing only on what's
coming out of the West---especially US. But
Government should be focussing on solving
crime instead. The only people terrorising us
are the Attorney General, National Security
Minister and criminal elements."
Abdullah took issue with the Government
for its handling of the recent controversial
Marriage Act. He said if the Attorney General
continues "pushing" on the current path,
"we're going to start pushing back ... Gov-
ernment must start listening to community
leaders, religious groups, NGOs."
Meanwhile, the Muslims of T&T group
headed by Imam Imtiaz Mohammed con-
demned the US administration's 90-day
visa ban on seven countries launched last
Mohammed said the ban will halt the re-
settlement of refugees from those countries
and affect reuniting of families.
"The US' executive order is motivated by
bigotry and false and harmful assumption
that Muslims are security threats and po-
tential terrorists," Mohammed added. (GA)
for soldier on
Calls for Govt to hold talks with US now as...
San Juan Imam confirms five members left for Syria
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