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Port-of-Spain: Eleven persons appeared in the Port-of-Spain Magistrate's Court this afternoon charged with assassinating former Independent Senator Dana Seetahal, SC, in May, last year. 

Reputed gang leader Rajaee Ali and 10 others appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Eight Magistrate Court around 1 pm for the charges to be formally read to them. 

The accused men, who all dressed in Muslim garb, occupied the entire prisoner enclosure of the courtroom and stood silently as the charge was being read. 

In addition to the murder charge, Ali was also slapped with a charge for being a gang leader, while his co-accused were charged with being members of a gang between March last year and earlier this month.  Deon Peters, David Ector and one of Ali's wives Stacy Griffith were not charged with the murder but were slapped with charges for being members of Ali's gang. Griffith was also slapped with an additional charge for facilitating gang activity. They were not called upon to plead to any of the charges which was laid indictably.

All 14 accused person were denied bail and remand into custody as bail is not allowed at all for persons charged with capital offenses and is also denied for 120 days for persons charged under the Anti-Gang legislation. 

During the hearing lawyer for the group, Criston J Williams raised several issues with the police investigation which led to his client being charged. Williams claimed that several newspapers and television stations had reported on evidence in the case which may affect his client's ability to get a fair trial. Williams also questioned why his clients were charged hours after he issued investigators with a pre-action protocol letter questioning their continued detention without being charged, last Friday. 

In response, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard who assured Williams that he would advise the media on proper and responsible reporting on the case. Gaspard refused to answer Williams' complaint on the charging of the suspects. 

As anticipated security for the hearing was stringent as police blocked several roads between the St Vincent Street courthouse and Independence Square. Heavily armed police officers were stationed at all exits and entrances at the court as well as at every street corner surrounding the building.

Only a handful of the accused relatives were allowed in the court for the hearing including the Carapo mosque's leader Hassan Ali, who is the father of Ali and his two brothers Hamid and Ishmael, who are also charged with Seetahal's murder. Jamaat leader Yasin Abu Bakr was also present in court and waved to the accused men as they were being led out of the court.

Bakr and Hassan Ali were initially detained for questioning in relation to Seetahal's murder last Monday, but were released without charge after spending close to three days in police custody. 
The accused persons will reappear in court on August 24. 

Persons accused of Dana Seetahal's murder:

1. Rajaee Ali, 29, of Rose Drive, Carapo 

2. Devaughn Cummings, 29, of Poui Lane, Malabar, Arima and Chandee Lane (off Mausica Road) D’Abadie 

3. Ishmael Ali, 30, of Pinewood Drive, Carapo, Arima (brother of Rajaee Ali) 

4. Ricardo Stewart, 30, of Rose Drive, Carapo, Arima 

5. Earl Richards, 48, of Water Hole, Cocorite 

6. Stephan Cummings, 33, of Rose Drive, Evergreen, Carapo, Arima 

7. Gareth Wiseman, 33, of Caledonia Road, Lange Park, Chaguanas 

8. Hamid Ali, 34, of Melodians Crescent, Malabar, Arima, (brother of Rajaee Ali) 

9. Kevin Parkinson, 28, of Water Hole, Cocorite 

10. Leston Gonzales, 28, of Malabar, Arima 

11. Roget Boucher, 29, of Rose Drive, Carapo, Arima 

According to reports, shortly before midnight on May 3 last year, Seetahal left the Ma Pau casino car park on French Street, Port-of-Spain, before driving onto Wrightson Road and later turning north onto Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook. 

Police said as she approached the Woodbrook Youth Facility around 12.05 am, she was blocked by two vehicles, whose occupants came out and shot her. 

Seetahal was shot five times, twice in the right side of her head, twice in the right forearm and once in the chest. Her killers were so close to her that gunpowder residue was found on her clothing. 

Omar Seetahal, brother of the slain Senior Council, said all his sister ever wanted was justice for all. 

“We are honestly hoping for justice – true justice. I want a true, fair and impartial criminal justice system. Dana was a person who wanted justice not merely convictions, she wanted true justice. I felt her presence in the courtroom today, she has always been an officer of the law,” Seetahal said

He said his family are happy that there is progress in the case.  

“I am happy to see that a step has been taken. The first step, we know that it is a journey but we are looking forward to a successful conclusion. We are looking forward for justice for Dana. We really hope our law enforcement agencies continue to do their part in making sure that true justice is served,” Seetahal said.

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FREEDOM lasted less than two days.

Hassan Atwell, 41, who together with Allan ‘Scanny’ Martin and Christopher ‘Monster’ Selby, shot their way out of the prisons in Port-of- Spain at midday on Friday, was shot multiple times and killed shortly after midnight yesterday in Laventille.

His death means that there was no freedom for any of the three as Martin was cornered inside a security booth at the Port-of- Spain General Hospital and shot dead by police minutes after the jailbreak and Selby surrendered to police yesterday. (See Page 5) During the jailbreak, Police Constable Sherman Maynard was shot in the chest by the fleeing prisoners. Maynard subsequently died at the General Hospital while undergoing emergency surgery.

Speaking on Atwell’s death, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams made it absolutely clear yesterday that no police officer was involved in the shooting of Atwell whose body was found inside the Servol Life Centre building located on Bath Street, Laventille at about 12.05am. This street connects with Calvary Road.

Commissioner Williams said that Atwell’s death is being treated as a murder by police and an active investigation is now underway.

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What is it like to be a Muslim in Cuba?

There are just 4,000 people in Cuba's small, but growing Muslim community.

But how easy is it to follow the Islamic way of life in a country with no halal butchers, where alcohol and pork are popular and - crucially - with no Mosque?

The Islamic Council of Jamaica

Propagating the true message of Islam

ISLAM IS one of the world's largest religions, with much of its converts living in the Eastern Hemisphere. Islam is also strong in some Western hemispheric countries.

And right here in Jamaica, regarded a Christian country, Islam has taken root. There are 12 places of worship, including the masjid (mosque) at the Islamic Council of Jamaica (ICOJ) headquarters, located at 24 Camp Road, Kingston 4.

This lecture, A Young Soldier of lslam: Haji Ruknudeen Sahib, examines the contributions made by this indentured immigrant who came to these shores some 120 years ago and spent 75 years in service to the Muslim community. A humble man, dedicated to the cause of lslam he joins the legions of other men such as Syed Abdul Aziz, Yacoob Ali Meer Hassan, Beekham Syne, Zahoor Khan, lshmile Khan, Hafiz Naziruddeen, Baboo Meah, Abdul Ghany (Gany), Yacoob Khan, Subrate Meah, Mohammed Ibrahim, John Mohammed, etc. who made sterling contributions to the consolidation and propagation of lslam in Trinidad and whose stories also need to be written and understood by my generation and younger generations. Like many of my generation, had it not been for the legacy I grew-up surrounded by, the trials, the tribulations and the triumphs of the Muslim community would have been largely ignored, for I benefited from the struggles of our fore parents and did not need to interrogate what existed. It is also a struggle that takes on new twists and turns in my generation and those after me.  How to be Muslim in a globalized world with its distinct myriad images of individuality and modernization, with attendant norms and values that runs counter to the very principles of Islam; submission to the will of Allah, humility, goodwill, community, cooperation and service? This challenge is made even more acute as we also live in an lslamophobic (as defined by Runnymede Trust, 1997) world. The struggle to constantly adapt, to live a life in service of lslam in a new world by Ruknudeen provides lessons for all of us even fifty years after his death.

Causes Of Extremism

Occupation with Side Issues:

Intellectual shallowness and lack of religious insight result in an intense interest in marginal issues like giving excessive importance to the growing of beard, the wearing of cloths below the ankle, so on and so forth. What is more dangerous is attempting to impose these on others. Sometimes what is fard (obligatory) is superseded by what is recommended, and this is against the spirit of Islam.

Excessive Extension of Prohibitions:

An extremist, due to lack of knowledge, may be seen to force others to drink while sitting. Since the hadeeth, which permits drinking water while standing, are more authentic as cited by Bukhari. It is mainly due to lack of thorough knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence and of Shariah.

Emphasis on Allegorical Texts:

Ignoring the Qur’anic verses which are straightforward and clear and giving more stress on the allegorical ones is another cause of extremism. (ref. Qur’an, 3:7)

Lack of Respect for Specialization:

One of the causes of extremism is a reluctance to listen to people who hold different views. Extremists have little interest in dialogues, as they never imagine that their views could be tested in the light of others, and be either contradicted or refuted. They may have received SEMI-knowledge. These devout young people ignore the fact that if they want to study Shariah, they must SEEK help of reliable Muslim scholars.

Lack of Insight into History, Reality and the Sunnah of Allah:

Some people continue to seek or demand the impossible and the unavailable, want to change the whole fabric of society by illusory means and imaginary methods. Prophet (SAWS) spent 13 years in Makkah, performed salah and tawaf on the premises of Ka’bah, though it was surrounded at that time by more than 360 idols.

Two Important Sunan:

1. Gradation: Allah created the universe in stages. In dawah, initially, Prophet (SAWS) gradually introduced the basic teachings of Islam.
2. To achieve targeted goals, giving the allowance of due time is important.

Extremists seem to ignore these two important ways.

Islam: A Stranger in Its Homeland:

Perhaps the most alarming and unbearable factor for any ardent and devout Muslim is that in many Muslim countries, perversion, corruption, and falsehood are rampant. Their opinion is that all the rulers of Arab Muslim countries are mere Pieces On A Chessboards and puppets in the hands of the secret powers that rule the world. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Muslims to be indifferent to the tragic mishaps that beset this Ummah (or to watch their brothers in Islam being SLAUGHTERED like animals, and their sisters being abused and raped). This state of affairs also contribute to the generating of extremist views.

Impediments Imposed On Da'wah And Du'at:

This cause of extremism pertains to the freedom to CALL people to Islam. Islam does not want a Muslim to work alone. Islam not only teaches a person to be pious and righteous but also enjoins them to try to reform others. So Muslims regard this vocation of calling people to Islam as a religiously mandated duty.  The gravest sins committed by some of the Muslim Governments are the censorship on the freedom to call people to Islam as a deen and a system of beliefs and a way of life. The intimidation of du’at and of those who call for the application of shariah, the establishment of the Islamic state, the unity of the Ummah, the liberation of the Muslim land, and the support of all Islamic causes leave few options open for Muslim youths other than desperate measures. This pressure generates extremism. Is it logical, therefore, to blame the youth who – despairing of being allowed to call for Islam with wisdom and nice preaching – have resorted to violent means? In Egypt, in 1954 and 1965, devout Muslims were subjected to nightmarish, hair-raising, unbelievable tortures in the military prisons: they were lashed, exposed to flames, their flesh burned with cigarettes; men and women were being hung upside down like slaughtered animals, while the executioners took turn scorching them until their bodies swelled up in heaps of blood and pus. Why? Why are they subjected to this torture? What crime have they committed?

 ... these cause extremism.

(Source: 'Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism', by Yusuf al Qaradawi, summary by Atiq Ahad) This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Above author takes full responsibility of it. 

More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief.”

This is not the first time Muslim leaders have joined to condemn the Islamic State. The chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, for example, last week told the nation’s Muslims that they should speak out against the “terrorist and murderers” who fight for the Islamic State and who have dragged Islam “through the mud.”

But the Muslim leaders who endorsed Wednesday’s letter called it an unprecedented refutation of the Islamic State ideology from a collaboration of religious scholars. It is addressed to the group’s self-anointed leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and “the fighters and followers of the self-declared ‘Islamic State.’”

But the words “Islamic State” are in quotes, and the Muslim leaders who released the letter asked people to stop using the term, arguing that it plays into the group’s unfounded logic that it is protecting Muslim lands from non-Muslims and is resurrecting the caliphate — a state governed by a Muslim leader that once controlled vast swaths of the Middle East.

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