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Monday 24 September 2018
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‘We want to come home’

TT women in Iraq jail beg for help

HELP US: Azizah Mohammed and Sabirah Waheed Kumar jailed 
for 20 years in Iraq.
HELP US: Azizah Mohammed and Sabirah Waheed Kumar jailed for 20 years in Iraq.

“IT’s very hard to be in prison with kids. Please help us.”

That was an appeal from one of three sisters originally from Rio Claro but now in prison in Iraq facing 20 years in jail as an ISIS insurgent from a foreign country.

Sabirah Waheed Kumar, 29, telephoned her grandfather Nazim Mohammed minutes after 4 am yesterday from prison to plead for the TT government to intervene in their plight.

Her sisters, Azizah Mohammed, 32, and Aiydah Firdaws Waheed-Hasib, 23, and their mother Anisa, 53, were jailed for 20 years on April 22 by an Iraqi judge in a brief trial in which they admitted to crossing the Turkish border to enter Iraq illegally.

Contacted yesterday, Nazim Mohammed, who is imam of the Navet Village mosque and a 1990 coup attempt insurgent, told the Newsday he believes Anisa’s husband, Daud, 56, might have been executed in Iraq.

“He has not been seen or heard of since their arrest in August last year,” Mohammed said.

A reporter from the London Telegraph covered the trial and reported the jail terms handed down on Anisa, and her daughters in a two-question hearing by the judge: Do you believe in the ideology of the Islamic State; Have you entered Iraq illegally? The Telegraph report said the family confessed they had been in search of an Islamic society and did enter illegally via the Turkish border. Mohammed told Newsday yesterday that his grandaughter Waheed Kumar told him she was separated from her jailed sisters and taken to another prison with her two children, Qasim, two, and Raeesa, six. Her husband, Ali Kumar, who is Guyanese, is in a separate prison.

“It was minutes after four this morning. The prison allowed Sabirah to talk to us for ten minutes.

“She said the prison has been releasing prisoners from different countries as long as their governments could provide documentation. Many of them are Canadians.

“She pleaded with us to urge the government to intervene. She kept saying that once the authorities here intervene, they would be released,” Mohammed said.

He provided a letter Sabirah wrote from prison which was posted on her behalf by the International Red Cross based in Iraq and written on prison paper with the subject heading in Arabic and English: “Family News Only.”

Sabirah pleaded, “It is hard to be in prison with kids but alhamdulilah they are with me. Whenever they allow me, I will try to call. Keep me in your duas (prayer). It keeps me strong. Love you all.”

Imtiaz Mohammed, who heads Muslims of TT, appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister to instruct TT’s mission in London to make the necessary representation for the family, but said, “There is always a reluctance on the part of the government whenever Muslims are holed up (sic) in foreign countries.”

Also expressing disappointment, Waajihatul Islamiyyah’s leader Umar Abdullah said he was aware other countries had employed diplomatic processes and their nationals have returned from Iraq.

He said, “At least three of our women have been given 20-year sentences, but can have their plight overturned should this government file documents either through the British and South African consulate for their return to their homeland.”

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