To the people of the Caribbean, the trial of four men charged with plotting to blow up John F Kennedy International Airport, New York, may be no big thing.
But for the people in the United States, it is considered a serious matter. The first step of the trial—jury selection—started on June 14 and, according to sources at the courthouse in Brooklyn yesterday, that process will take another two weeks before a jury is empanelled to hear the case against a Trinidadian and three Guyanese. Jury selection is taking place before Judge Dora Irizarry in the Eastern District of New York Federal Court. On trial are Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim and Guyanese Russell de Freitas, Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nur. The jury selection process is moving along slowly, according to sources. When this is completed, the US assistant attorney will open the case to the jury and reveal the prosecution’s case and what is the evidence against the alleged plotters.
JAMAICA'S Muslims have made it clear they will welcome reputed hate preacher Abdullah el-Faisal into the community unless he proves himself unworthy, following his deportation to the island last Friday.
"As a Muslim coming back to Jamaica, we welcome him. We welcome any and every Muslim who come here as long as they abide by the rules and regulations that are stipulated," president of the Islamic Council of Jamaica (ICJ) Mustafa Muhammad told the Sunday Observer.
The three-Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim, 63, and Guyanese nationals Abdul Kadir, 56, and Abdel Nur, 58, are each charged with five counts of conspiracy: conspiracy to attack a public transportation system; conspiracy to destroy a building by fire; conspiracy to attack an aircraft; conspiracy to destroy an international airport, specifically JFK; conspiracy to attack a mass transportation facility; and a sixth count of engaging in surveillance of mass transportation security.
"Sheikh" Abdullah Faisal, who was convicted of soliciting murder in 2003, was deported to Jamaica from the UK last year.
But he has moved on and is now preaching in South Africa.
On June 2, 2007, U.S. federal authorities announced that they broke up an alleged terrorist plot by four Afro-Caribbean converts to Islam and radical Muslims from Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The plot was in its planning stages, and had been followed by the FBI for 16 months. Despite not being close to completion, the intention of the plotters was to create maximum havoc and destruction, hoping that the fuel dumps would then destroy terminal buildings and aircrafts on the ground.
The exposure of this plot has brought to the fore the issue of the domestic threat posed by radical Muslims from the Caribbean and, thus, by radical Islam acquiring a foothold in the Caribbean basin, a geographical area which is located in the US backyard.
The Caribbean Basin is formed out of 31 countries, which are classified linguistically into four regions including 19 English-speaking countries, 5 French-speaking countries, 3 Spanish-speaking countries, and 4 Dutch-speaking countries. Out of a total population of about 35 million, only about 300,000 are Muslims. Small concentrations of Muslims can be found all over the Caribbean basin. However, the largest Muslim populations are in the English-speaking countries of Guyana, where they comprise approximately 13% of the overall population; and Trinidad & Tobago, where they comprise approximately 8% of the overall population; as well as in Suriname, which is a Dutch-speaking country, where there are nowadays about 120,000 Muslims, who comprise approximately 28% of the overall population.