Date: 1.29.02

TRINIDAD OFFICIAL BLASTS TERRORIST REPORTS

By ADIKA BUTLER

  In an exclusive interview Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador John S. Donaldson blasted recent news reports indicating that Muslim terrorists will launch imminent biological weapons attacks against U.S. and British interests on the island.

 While Great Britain has responded by issuing an advisory for it’s citizens visiting Trinidad, Donaldson said that the reports are irresponsible, unfounded and hurts the island’s image worldwide. The ambassador also stopped short of saying that the reports are politically motivated.

“My belief is that some of the people involved in this type of childishness are very infantile, stupid, and they believe that by doing these things they are going to promote the interests, or destroy the interests of one particular party or the other,” said Donaldson during a visit to Basement Recordings studios. Instead he said the reports works to cripple “all of Trinidad and Tobago.”

According to an article by Darryl Heeralal entitled “Warn first, attack later” on the Express website, a member of a Trinidadian Muslim group contacted the paper to warn ahead of time that biological weapon attacks were in store for U.S. and British institutions on the island. However, Donaldson indicated that the allegations are peculiar because terrorists are not known for their good manners.

“It was very interesting when I heard your president here in the United States say last night that terrorists don’t give you notice when they’re coming to do their thing,” said Donaldson  referring to Tuesday’s state of the union address. “But then again, it’s carnival season in Trinidad and Tobago,” he added sarcastically.

Express journalists have said that they were blindfolded and taken to a secret location to view chemical substances that would allegedly be used in the event of an attack. Some observers on the island, however, have said that because the journalists cannot identify where they were taken their accounts are questionable.

As Trinidadian officials investigate the Express stories, Sunity Maharaj, the paper’s editor-in-chief, is standing behind the reports.

Donaldson, on the other hand maintains that for tourists, Trinidad is as safe as it has been for the past year.

Great Britain has decided to take precaution though. The nation issued an advisory for tourists, prompting one of its cruise lines to cancel four stops to the island in the past month. The United States has deemed the island to be relatively safe, but intelligence is still investigating a possible threat.

Trinidad, an oil rich Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela is home to a sizable  Muslim community. Some of its members have found themselves in the midst of controversy over the years. Jamaat Al-Muslimeen, a radical Islamic group on the island attempted a coup in 1990.

Basdeo Panday, a former prime minister and leader of the opposition party, has alleged in the past that the group has links to Al-Qaeda and is connected to members of the government. Trinidad’s Prime Minister, Patrick Manning has vehemently denied any government association.


 

Email the writer at aton9@hotmail.com

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