Bunting: Abu Bakr's $4m jet was insurance premium

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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PETER Bunting yesterday said that he regards the $4 million spent to send home Trinidadian Muslim leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, by a private jet last Wednesday, as a home insurance premium.

"I regard this expenditure the same way I do a home insurance policy. We regret having to pay the premium when nothing happens, but we are really happy to have that insurance in place when a hurricane hits," Bunting told the House of Representatives in a statement.

The national security minister was responding to criticisms about the cost of sending the Trinidadian home.

"All things considered, this seemed the best course of action immediately available to the Government," Bunting said.

He said that an immediate attempt was made to return Abu Bakr on a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight to Trinidad. However, the radical Muslim leader refused to co-operate and had to be accompanied by immigration and security personnel.

"He was placed in an economy class seat, but became boisterous, unco-operative and refused to comply, citing medical issues among other reasons," the minister said.

He explained that CAL authorities indicated that it would be a breach of security protocol to have a non-compliant passenger fly in the first class cabin which, in any event, was already booked.

He said that the flight was unwilling to depart, given Abu Bakr's display of resistance, and the entire flight was at risk of being cancelled as the other passengers became increasingly concerned.

Bunting next noted that Section 28 of the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizen) Act provides that, in these circumstances, it is the duty of the State that refuses a person leave to land to bear the cost of the return of the individual from its public funds.

The minister said that it was "clearly in the interest of national security to not allow Abu Bakr to land in Jamaica and to remove him from Jamaica at the earliest opportunity".

Abu Bakr had come to Jamaica to attend the 19th anniversary celebration of the Nation of Islam's Million Man March.

Bunting said his ministry's security planning did not recognise the Nation of Islam as representing any threat. However, it considered the possibility that the occasion might be used as a cover for others to enter Jamaica for purposes detrimental to national security.

The minister listed a number of violent incidents to which he linked Abu Bakr and the Jamat Al Muslimeen, including the 1990 coup in Trinidad and Tobago in which then Prime Minister ANR Robinson and other parliamentarians were taken hostage.

"While the cost of Abu Bakr's removal by a private charter was significant, it pales in comparison to what the attempted coup d'etat cost Trinidad in 1990, or what a terrorist incident would cost Jamaica today, or even with the billions of dollars that the mishandling of the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition cost this country in 2010," he stated.

Bunting said there was a possibility that there are now connections between radicals and militants in Trinidad, and some of the most dangerous and ruthless terrorist organisations in the world.


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