Sun | Dec 16, 2018

The $4-million fakir

Published:Sunday | October 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

How much does it cost to fly one crazy fakir to Trinidad? About J$4 million, according to GOJ accounting. It doesn't help if the passenger might want to blow you up. Or blow himself up. Or if you're terrified that he might identify you as part of the plot to extradite him from Jamaica and target your family, friends and pets.

Let's work up to the expensive plane flight. Just last month I was strolling through the Toronto Book Fair called 'The Word on the Street' and it was impossible to avoid the Qur'ans being handed out by long-robed and bearded men. After the second copy, and having declined a few more, I started to pay closer attention to the number of stern Saracens. There were very many. Canada is multicultural and welcoming.

With all that, last Wednesday morning, news broke that an ISIS-inspired crackhead named Michael Hall, now rebranded Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had entered Canada's Parliament brandishing a weapon and hunting martyrdom. Thankfully, Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms at the House of Commons who usually walks around in a funny hat with the mace, abandoned his ceremonial role and gave Michael a one-way ticket to 72 virgins and an eternal supply of crack-cocaine relatively quickly.

If it all seems far away, consider that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will have taken note that Jamaica recently co-sponsored a UN Resolution condemning the jihadi group's "violent extremism" and encouraging nations to share intelligence, block funding, and inhibit the travel options of would-be terrorists. They, and their supporters, won't look at it kindly.


Everyone should listen to Cliff Hughes' interview last month with Jamaican jihadist Trevor Forrest, rebranded Abdullah el-Faisal. After some initial dodging, the sheikh described women captured by ISIS as "concubines" who were the "spoils of war". It was a great reminder that even on our little island, there are fanatical extremists with barbaric ideas crouched and waiting. So as much as we may want to believe that dis cockroach nuh bizniz inna dat deh fowl fight, our general disinterest in the jihadis doesn't guarantee they will remain disinterested in us.

Prior to extradition, Trevor was locked in a British prison for four years "for soliciting murder and hate speech". He is thought to have played a part in "radicalising" the Jamaican/British shoe bomber, Richard Reid, and a perpetrator of the 7/7 bombing of the London Underground, Germain Lindsay. He sees every Muslim leader who isn't promising death to the West as a corrupted sellout whose head properly belongs on a pike. Though supportive of ISIS, Trevor was actually pleading for them to spare Alan Henning, but they cut his head off in any case. It happens, right?

When it was inquired of him whether Jamaica might become part of the Caliphate, Trevor's response acknowledged its current impracticability, but not its undesirability. Owing to Jamaica's intransigence, he expressed the desire to be transported over to the Middle East to live under the tent of the emerging caliphate.

In the meantime, while it may be entirely coincidental that we were graced with the presence of Louis Wolcott, rebranded as Brother Farrakhan for the 19th annual disappointment of the Hundred Man March, that event called forth out of the bowels of Trinidad a genuine and proven terrorist, Lennox Philip, rebranded Yasin Abu Bakr. He leads the Jamaat Al Muslimeen group that in 1990 attempted a coup, stormed Parliament, took hostages, and triggered rioting that razed Port-of-Spain and killed 24 people.

He hasn't quit. Apart from a continuous series of near-brushes with the law and accusations of shady activity in Trinidad, everyone in New York awoke one morning in June 2007 to learn of a foiled plot to blow up fuel lines at JFK Airport, again courtesy of the Jamaat group. One told a federal informant that "he had a vision that would make the World Trade Center attack seem small".

Not unconnected, every day there are fresh reports of Trinidadian citizens joining ISIS. My point: Rest assured that there's some nutjob out there clutching a Caribbean passport with plans to blow the Great Satans - you and me - sky-high if they get the chance.


Of course, I think too much money was spent on this fakir. A penny is too much. However, imagine the legal costs when the inevitable lawyers filed for habeas corpus, or the toxic remnants of a six-month stay courtesy of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. The fear is that he could have infected other prisoners at the Horizon Remand Centre with mental Ebola if he was housed there for a while. There's something to it, even though my own view is that a Jamaican prison is just the place for this terrorist type. This isn't the American apartment units where they get three squares, a flush toilet, and generally scrupulous attention paid to respecting their religious requirements. In that respect, Government missed an opportunity.

We're told that attempts to place him on a Caribbean Airlines plane failed because he behaved too obstreperously and had to be deplaned. I know that I wouldn't want to take flight alongside an angry jihadi with a track record of pulling off spectacular stunts. No way. Not without a full-body scan just prior to takeoff, cavity searches by the Barbadians who assaulted Shanique, and reinforced-steel restraints. I like to fly with little old ladies, preferably in wheelchairs, reading their Bibles and kissing photographs of their grandchildren.

Daryl suggests Lennox should have been given a ride on a single-engine JDF aircraft. But Daryl is too kind. How about a single-engine fisherman canoe? Better yet, a dugout, two oars, some beers and bacon sandwiches courtesy of the people of Jamaica, and a promise of Reneto Adams if he turns around. Trinidad is four million oar strokes due south. Thanks for the visit. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

n Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@