Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says raids on mosques over the Carnival period were justified after “lethal weapons, arms and ammunition” were found at the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen Mosque in Cunupia on Thursday.
Rowley recalled that when the security forces raided the mosques prior to Carnival, “there were those who told the country the Government is anti-Muslim, anti-this and telling the international community how the Government capriciously was doing this and doing that to places of worship.”
“Today, one of the very mosques we had to raid at Carnival time, on credible information that the security services had, we have found within that place of worship lethal weapons, arms and ammunition,”
Given the find, he wondered what those who had “carried a conversation that the Government was anti-Muslim and we were, in fact, desecrating places of worship would say.”
The head of the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen mosque has denied any knowledge about a cache of guns and assorted ammunition found by workmen repairing a ceiling in the building in Cunupia, in central Trinidad on Thursday.
“The Masjid wishes to categorically state that the illegal arms and ammunition do not belong to the organisation and we do not condone any illegal activity on our compound. In fact, we condemn the actions of whoever planted the weapons unknowing to us, in the masjid’s compound,” Maulana Saeed Ali, said in a statement.
“We are very saddened that anyone would choose a holy place of Allah to hide illegal guns and ammunition, especially in this month of Ramadhan. We condemn the action as un-Islamic,”
On Thursday at about 8.30 am, workers conducting maintenance works found several garbage bags stashed away in the ceiling of the toilet in the ladies section of the mosque. In the bags were an AK-47 assault rifle, two Beretta pistols, two pump action shotguns, a quantity of assorted ammunition, a ski mask and a firearm holster.
Along with the guns, were 23 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 16 rounds of .40mm ammunition and 15 12-gauge cartridges. Yesterday afternoon, a team of five investigating officers returned to the mosque where they conducted interviews with the Imam and recorded several statements from staff and workers.
In 1990, a group of Muslims launched an unsuccessful attempt to unseat the government of then prime minister ANR Robinson and in recent years police have detained several members of Muslim faith alleging their involvement in a plot to destabilise the country