Trinidad and Tobago is an island nation in the Caribbean that you probably can’t differentiate from any of the other island nations there, with the possible exceptions of Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti. Best known for second-rate Rastafarian music, second-rate tourist attractions, and the occasional bit of voodoo, Trinidad and Tobago is also home to Jamaat al-Muslimeen, an Islamist organization led by imam Yasin Au Bakr. Born Lennox Philip, Abu Bakr converted to Islam and changed his name before trying to really shake things up in the Caribbean.
In 1990, Abu Bakr and his Jamaat al-Muslimeen bros tried to stage a coup and overthrow Trinidad and Tobago’s government. Their end goal was believed to be paving the way for the implementation of an Islamic system of governance. Armed with all sorts of guns, the men stormed the nation’s largest television station and parliament, holding numerous political figures at gunpoint. During the six-day standoff, with the islands’ limited security personnel trying to rescue the government, widespread looting erupted. Realizing they were surrounded and not yet ready for their 72 virgins, the men surrendered after forcing parliamentarians to write them pardons for their crime.
Fast forward to 2005. Abu Bakr delivered a speech in which he said that “war’ would be waged against all Muslims who failed to pay zakat (required charity) the following year. Most people took it as a subliminal message of extortion, that the money should be paid to Jamaat al-Muslimeen. Thus, the organization’s headquarters were raided by police. Like numerous other such compounds held by the religion of peace, assault weaponry and ammunition were discovered. Abu Bakr was arrested during the raid.
In 2006, two members of Jamaat al-Muslimeen were expelled for unknown reasons. A hitman killed them shortly thereafter. Police tried to link Abu Bakr to the crime, but could not discover enough evidence of his involvement though it was highly suspected.
Jamaat al-Muslimeen is also believed to have ties to drug running and other organized crime. Several of its members have confessed to violent crimes, such as kidnapping, rape, and murder. Currently, the organization and Abu Bakr are under surveillance by the international intelligence community.