SEAN DOUGLAS and PAULA LINDO
ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi has denied former senator Nafeesa Mohammed’s claim of Government being uncaring towards nationals in refugee camps in Syria adding that Mohammed herself admitted those individuals had gone there to participate in terrorist activities under the group, ISIS.
He said Mohammed’s statement of resignation from the PNM was largely based on self-interest of herself and her family, to which the Government could not accede. Al-Rawi said her relative Jamal Mohammed had been a UNC senator, adding, “Nafeesa Mohammed left the PNM many, many years ago.
“Nafeesa has also had the very difficult personal situation of having a family member being wanted in other jurisdictions. That is not something you can look past. My own belief is that she has a deep and serious conflict of interest in her argument.”
He said it is a conflict of interest to demand the Government take certain steps when the US authorities are searching for your relative, even as the special co-ordination mechanisms between TT’s Central Authority and the FBI and CIA tells you to hold on.
“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Nafeesa Mohammed. She is adamant on one thing, ‘Protect my family!’ The law does not operate to protect Nafeesa’s family alone. The law has to operate in a balance. If we get to the issue of the returnees, I heard her making a lot of criticism about me as AG, ‘Faris didn’t do this and Faris didn’t...’.
“No, Faris can’t step in and protect your family, Nafeesa. Faris has to protect the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said the Prime Minister, Minister of National Security and National Security Council do not act capriciously.
“It’s the same reason why, again in a familial situation demanding of the last Government that they take steps to protect family members or persons who were known to her in the Venezuelan lock up situation, again her cause célèbre is a conflict of interest. You cannot look past that.
“On the returnees we have developed and we have been in deep consultation, and I can show you all of the letters in support from the Muslim community for the legislation I have brought to bring home people in an organised way.
“But you cannot, knowing that these people are ISIS supporters...
“Let me make this absolutely clear and talk to Trinidad and Tobago. Nafeesa is saying to TT these persons who are citizens of TT, their husbands were killed in action. What action? ISIS? Could it be. Did they volunteer to leave this country as ISIS fighters, take their wives who went willingly in support of ISIS, have children and God forbid they should expose their children...
Al-Rawi: Terrorism flies in the face of Islam
“Those are breaches of the anti-terrorism laws in the world. So according to Nafeesa, forget that. ‘Don’t worry who may have been inculcated in ISIS or not. Just bring them home!’
“I mean, TT, watch some people carefully you know. Would you be comfortable with that? Just go and pick up 77 people and drop them back in TT society? What did they go to do?” Al-Rawi said terrorism flies in the face of Islam.
“The Muslim community has been massively in support that we stand against terrorism.”
The AG said Mohammed herself has said those people left TT to commit terrorist acts and also there was evidence to this end.
“They didn’t leave on a holiday. They left for terrorism. They were killed in action in ISIS.
“Have you seen what ISIS did? Beheading people. Raping children. Raping women. You cannot, in a governmental position, look past something like that.
“All of the imams that I have met and the whole Muslim community that has worked in the Muslim round table etcetera, when you take aside the UNC politics everybody is concerned that we do the right thing in an organised way.”
He recalled UK teen Shamina Begum who joined ISIS, got pregnant and then had her British citizenship revoked.
“We are not saying that (to revoke citizenship), but you have to have intelligence and evidence and you have to make sure you care for your society, in as balancing of interests.
“So to Nafeesa Mohammed I say, Stop bringing your personal conflict of interest argument to TT.”
Al-Rawi said he has relatives in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq but never voiced any personal concerns.
“Nafeesa has to be understood in the context of what she is saying, ‘Forget the laws’, look after her family.
“I’m sorry, that is not what TT put a Government into place to do. We will make sure we protect our citizens.”
He said the Government has drafted a returning citizens bill ready to go to Parliament which had first needed consultation.
“I have the evidence to show you wide-scale written support from the Muslim community for this particular piece of legislation.”
Mohammed: Allah in control, not AG
Mohammed replied to the AG's comments.
She denied meeting Al-Rawi, alleging, "Those are total lies. I never had any conversations with the AG on any of these matters."
Regarding claims of her having a conflict of interest, Mohammed said, "He is the expert in conflict of interest with his family business."
Mohammed said people have suffered enough and she was entitled to fight for them if it became necessary.
"Allah is in control. Not you Faris. And the truth will prevail."
Mohammed addressed the TT women and children now stuck in Syria.
"Regarding the children and their relatives, those people are taking their own actions. As a person living here, I have commented on it because these are children who are voiceless, and they are victims of a situation, the world knows it's a horrible sordid thing, and I am certainly not and never in support of ISIS.
"As far as I see it that movement (ISIS) has ended, and these are our citizens, children and women, who are vulnerable victims of that sordid time in the part of the world, and it is against that background that I am requesting to have them returned and forgiven for their mistakes and misjudgment.
"I want to state categorically that the AG has distorted and twisted the facts in his typical style, trying to shift blame from his incompetence."