Yasin Abu Bakr
Yasin Abu Bakr (born Lennox Philip) is the leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Muslim group in Trinidad and Tobago. The group has long-standing links with Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. Under the leadership of Abu Bakr and Bilaal Abdullah, the group staged an attempted coup d’état in 1990.
On December 4, 2006, he was found not-guilty for conspiring to murder two expelled Jamaat al Muslimeen members, Salim Rasheed and Adel Ghany. Deadbwoy, a friend of Rasheed and Ghany, killed them both. Justice Mustapha Ibrahim ruled that the evidence of the prosecution was “very weak, and so manifestly unreliable, and so discredited as a result of cross-examination, that no reasonable tribunal—none whatever—could safely convict on it.” The jurors soon returned a not-guilty verdict. On December 5, 2006, key witness, Brent “Small Brent” Danglade, was charged with perjury. He had refused to testify on the witness stand and had become a hostile witness.
In his Eid ul-Fitr message delivered on November 3, 2005 Abu Bakr threatened “war” against Muslims who did not pay zakaat next year. The statement was generally interpreted as a demand that the tax be paid to the Jamaat al Muslimeen. On November 8 Abu Bakr was arrested and charged with three counts of inciting extortion and one for sedition. The Jamaat al Muslimeen headquarters were occupied by the Army on November 10 and Abu Bakr’s office was demolished in a search for weapons and ammunition after metal detectors discovered objects below the building. A high-powered rifle, a hand grenade, walkie talkies and 700 rounds of ammunition were seized.
Jamaat al Muslimeen is widely believed by many to be involved in criminal activities such as kidnapping and the drug trade. Another controversial aspect of Abu Bakr has been his views on Indo-Trinidadians. On radio interviews Bakr has justified violent crime against Indo-Trinidadians because “Indians own all the land and business.” His speeches are controversial and considered racist by many, including Afro-Trinidadians. Abu Bakr was in the habit of utilising the partially concealed racism that is endemic in Trinidad society, he was well known for using the race card to obtain political favours, a good example was his broadcast on Trinidad & Tobago Television on the evening of July 27, 1990 when he addressed the nation; he blatantly condemned the African led fraction of the then NAR government for racism. To date, he is back in favour with the Hindu led coalition of political parties, overseeing the multimillion dollar exterior painting of officially condemned apartment buildings. All are in African crime ridden areas in east Port of Spain. Despite his controversial history, Abu Bakr has proven to be a survivor in Trinidadian politics.
As of March 2007, three members of Abu Bakr’s organization (Jamaat al Muslimeen) have confessed of their role in the kidnapping, rape, murder and dismemberment of local businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.
- Angela Potter, "Trinidad Muslims Being Closely Monitored," Associate Press, November 1, 2001.
- Robin Walker, "Profile: Jamaat al Muslimeen," BBC News, June 3, 2007.