“FOREIGNERS were behind my arrest,” Tariq Mohammed declared yesterday, as he reiterated that as a devout Muslim, he is a man of peace and does not support the terrorist group ISIS. Speaking from his Mohammedville, El Socorro home two days after being released by police, Mohammed denied being part of any plot to disrupt Carnival or carry out terrorist acts.
“I do not support ISIS. It is a horrible thing when innocent people are killed, whether it is in the East or the West. I do not condone violence and the killing of innocent people. These violent actions are not justifiable and not part of what Islam stands for,” Mohammed said. He added that he was never interviewed by any foreign intelligence officers, but firmly believes his detention stemmed from ideas hatched in the minds of foreigners. “I do not believe this is something of a local nature, it has to do with foreign superpowers pressing a button. They had an interest and a concern, so their foot soldiers acted.”
While he was first detained at Riverside Plaza, three Special Branch officers questioned Mohammed for close to two and a half hours. But at no point, Mohammed said, was he asked about any plot to disrupt Carnival. All the questions centred on his detention at a military prison in Saudi Arabia in 2016 and whether he had any links with ISIS internationally or locally.
Mohammed denied any such links, telling police of his detention in Saudi Arabia and insisting he was released after 16 months when the Saudi authorities could not find any reasonable cause to detain him longer. Reiterating he is a family man who was studying and attending to his wife’s catering business, Mohammed said he felt as if he is being persecuted.
Mohammed said he knows some of the other 12 people who were detained, as he grew up with some of them, attends mosque and communicates with some of them.
But he insisted they too are not terrorists or linked to any planned plot to disrupt Carnival. He is now concentrating on moving on after the ordeal, but said he is not ruling out taking legal action against the State.
Mohammed, 32, a father of three, spent several hours yesterday attending to his grandmother.
Special Branch police surrounded his house and produced a search warrant claiming they had information he had arms and ammunition. The police allegedly broke down the doors to his father’s home, ransacked all the rooms and struck his brother to subdue him, before taking Mohammed to Riverside Plaza.
After being quizzed for close to two and a half hours, Mohammed said he was moved to the Belmont police station, where he was put in a cell with a concrete bench.
He said during that time, no police questioned him and he spent his days and nights simply sitting on the bench wondering why he was being persecuted.
The police did not treat him badly, he said, and he was allowed to bathe and given meals brought by his relatives. Mohammed said his only discomfort was sleeping on the cold bench.