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  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the Government’s decision to spend $4 million to return Muslim Leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, to Trinidad and Tobago last week, was the best course of action immediately available to the Government.
  • On Wednesday, October 15, the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) made the decision to refuse leave to land the Trinidadian, who is leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical group based in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Citing several violent incidents associated with the Muslim Leader and his group, including an attempted coup d’etat in 1990 in which then Prime Minister, A.N.R. Robinson, was shot, and 24 persons killed.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the Government’s decision to spend $4 million to return Muslim Leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, to Trinidad and Tobago last week, was the best course of action immediately available to the Government.

“It was clearly in the interest of national security to not land this individual and to remove him from Jamaica at the earliest possible time,” the Minister said in a statement in Parliament on October 21.

On Wednesday, October 15, the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) made the decision to refuse leave to land the Trinidadian, who is leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical group based in Trinidad and Tobago.

Citing several violent incidents associated with the Muslim Leader and his group, including an attempted coup d’etat in 1990 in which then Prime Minister, A.N.R. Robinson, was shot, and 24 persons killed, Minister Bunting stressed that the foreigner presented a “genuine, present, and sufficiently serious threat” to Jamaica’s national security.

He said while the cost of Abu Bakr’s removal by a private charter was significant, it paled in comparison to what the attempted coup d’etat cost Trinidad, or what a terrorist incident would cost Jamaica today.

The Minister noted that the Muslim Leader, which a 2014 Commission of Enquiry described as a “ruthless” unrepentant mastermind, was visiting the island to attend the 19th anniversary celebration of the Nation of Islam’s Million Man March.

Mr. Bunting explained that Abu Bakr was refused leave to land under Section 4 (1) h of the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act. The Act permits the Minister of National Security to refuse leave to land to “any person who, from information or advice…is deemed by the Minister to be an undesirable inhabitant of, or visitor to the island.”

He further noted that under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) state is allowed to refuse to land a CARICOM national on the grounds of national security.

Providing details of the incident, the Minister informed that an immediate attempt was made to return the Muslim leader on a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight to Trinidad. However, Mr. Abu Bakr 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, uncooperative, and refused to comply, citing medical issues among other reasons,” the Minister said.

Mr. Bunting added that authorities at CAL 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 fully booked.

“The flight was unwilling to depart, given Bakr’s display of resistance, and the entire flight was at risk of being cancelled as the other passengers became increasingly concerned,” he informed.

The Minister pointed out 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.

He said despite the circumstances, the Jamaican Government still had a duty of care to the radical leader, particularly with regard to his medical issues, which may have put him at risk from protracted delay or even travelling in economy.

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