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Bunting says spending $4m to deport Muslim leader was the best decision

Published:Tuesday | October 21, 2014 | 5:47 PM
Peter Bunting - File
Yasin Abu Bakr

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

KINGSTON, Jamaica;

National Security Minister Peter Bunting today told the House of Representatives that the decision to pay $4 million to return Muslim Leader Yasin Abu Bakr to Trinidad last week, appeared at the time to be the best move.

He likened the money to a home insurance policy which appears to be a waste if there is no disaster, but a cover in the event of destruction.

The minister said he was unwilling to take the chance and detain Abu Bakr at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre for fear that he would radicalise inmates.

Derrick Smith, the opposition spokesman on national security said the Government had made the correct decision by denying Abu Bakr entry.

He, however, said Abu Bakr should have been locked up at Horizon "until he decided he wants to go ..."

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, in sotto voce comments, scoffed at the Opposition's position.

"It would cost us more than $4 million when him soak us," the prime minister said with a frown.

While conceding the sum is significant, Bunting said it pales in comparison to what a terrorist attack in Jamaica would have cost.

He also said the sum is small when compared to billions spent seeking to delay the extradition of confessed gangster Christopher 'Dudus' Coke in 2010.

Abu Bakr was coming to Jamaica for the 19th renewal of the Million Man March staged by the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Bunting said that the occasion might have been used as a cover for activities that could be detrimental to the country's national security.

Bunting told legislators that a Commission of Enquiry described Abu Bakr as an unrepentant mastermind who is ruthless.

Abu Bakr had led an attempted coup in Trinidad in 1990 in which then Prime Minister ANR Robinson was shot.

Some 24 deaths resulted from the attempt.

Bunting said that Abu Bakr presents a genuine and sufficiently serious threat to Jamaica's national security.

Meanwhile, Bunting said Abu Bakr refused to be seated when he was escorted to a waiting Caribbean Airlines aircraft.

He said the Trinidadian refused to be seated in the economy section of the plane and that it would be a breach of security protocol to have him seated in the business or first class area of the aircraft.

He said further that because Abu Bakr was uncooperative, the packed flight was in danger of being cancelled.

Smith, meanwhile, said the government, in dealing with Abu Bakr, should have shackled him, subdued him and sent him back.

Bunting, though, said Abu Bakr, although in shackles, was fighting and creating a scene.

"Caribbean Airlines could not have carried him".

He said that if Abu Bakr had been landed, the Government's other option was to put him in jail, and under the Treaty of Chaguaramas he would have an automatic six month stay.


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