Trinidad terror lawsuit up for hearing

(Trinidad Guardian) A High Court judge will hear an application from the State today seeking to deem a US convicted national a terrorist and pave the way to freeze his assets.

The lawsuit, the first of its kind, is set for hearing before Justice Nadia Kangaloo in the Port-of-Spain High Court at 9.30 am.

The Office of the Attorney General is yet to identify any local assets, including bank accounts, attributed to Kareem Ibrahim, 70, formerly of Cane Farm Road, Tacarigua, which could be seized through its application under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to court documents filed on Tuesday, checks by the T&T Police Service’s Financial Investigation Branch revealed that Ibrahim was not an account holder or signatory with any local financial institution.

Checks in relation to any potential real estate and business interests are still ongoing, the results of which are expected to be presented to the court while the AG’s application is being heard by Kangaloo.

Section 22(b) of Anti-Terrorism Act provides that the AG’s office apply to have the terrorist’s assets frozen, provided that there is sufficient evidence proving that he/she was involved in terrorism either locally or internationally.

The application is to be heard ex parte. Ibrahim may apply for a review of Kangaloo’s eventual decision, 60 days after she delivers it.

Central to the application is evidence used to secure the conviction of Ibrahim and his two Guyanese co-conspirators, which was provided to the AG’s office by the United States Department of Justice.

In a press conference following the closing ceremony of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) plenary meeting at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi noted Ibrahim’s application was the first of several being considered by his office and the National Security Council.

“There are several we are looking at right now. Once the evidence has been nailed down and when everything is gelled together the applications will be made. Due process must be observed, hence avoiding pre-trial publicity by revealing names and addresses,” Al-Rawi said.

Questioned on whether the Government intended to introduce legislation preventing locals suspected of involvement with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from re-entering T&T, Al-Rawi said the move was being considered.

“If T&T were to do a knee-jerk reaction without thinking it through by amending the Immigration Act with regards to the power to bounce a T&T national at the airport, this will create an immediate issue of statelessness.

“Who takes the people you bounce? Which airline takes them back and to where?” Al-Rawi said, as he claimed  local terrorism laws which criminalised terrorist activity in foreign territories could be used to prosecute nationals suspected of returning from fighting in the Middle East.

Background 

​Ibrahim was convicted on May 26, 2011 of conspiracy to launch a terrorist attack at the John F Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York, in 2007.

He and Guyanese nationals—Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir—were accused of plotting to explode fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the airport.

The evidence at the trial established that Ibrahim, an imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in T&T, provided religious instructions and operational support to a group plotting to commit a terrorist attack at JFK Airport.

Ibrahim and his co-conspirators believed their attack would cause extensive damage to the airport and to the New York economy, as well as the loss of numerous lives. The trio was arrested in Trinidad in June 2007 and were eventually extradited to the US to face trial.

He was found guilty after a four-week trial and was sentenced to life in prison. He is currently serving time at a prison in Missouri in the US.

The specific charges Ibrahim was convicted of are: Conspiracy to attack a public transportation system; conspiracy to destroy a building by fire or explosive; conspiracy to attack aircraft and aircraft materials; conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities and conspiracy to attack a mass transportation facility.

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