Trinidadian Islamic group threatens to use chemical and biological weapons

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The Independent US

An unexpected new front in the "war on terrorism" has opened this week in Trinidad after an announcement by a local Islamic group that it is manufacturing chemical and biological weapons and might use them against British and American targets on the island.

An unexpected new front in the "war on terrorism" has opened this week in Trinidad after an announcement by a local Islamic group that it is manufacturing chemical and biological weapons and might use them against British and American targets on the island.

The announcement, made through two reporters for Trinidad's leading newspaper, who were blindfolded and taken to a plausibly alarming secret chemical laboratory, has caused ferment on the island, alarmed authorities in London and Washington and prompted at least one foreign company, the P&O shipping line, to keep tourists away.

"With our weapons we are going to reach you," the group said in its statement. "We will reach you where you sleep, we will reach you where you take your baths, we will reach you where you take your meals and have your drinks, even a glass of water you hold in your hand to drink may not be safe."

The group claimed it had been manufacturing and storing chemical and biological weapons for two years. It said it hoped not to have to use them, but was deadly serious about stopping Britain and the United States "persecuting Muslims worldwide".

The reporters for the Trinidad Express talked to a man who said he was a chemical engineer who had received explosives training in the United States. They were shown various materials and told they could be used to manufacture a form of nerve gas as well as toxins strong enough to poison the island's water supply. An expert from the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute watched video footage of the reporting trip and said the man in the lab "sounded as though he knows what he is talking about and what he intends to do".

It is not clear who the Islamic group is, although it is likely to be related to Jamaat al-Muslimeen, a radical sect that launched an unsuccessful coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago in 1990. The group told the Trinidad Express it sympathised with Osama bin Laden and the Bali bombers, and harboured ambitions to stage an Islamic revolution on the island, even though Muslims make up only 6 per cent of the local population.

Even before the Trinidad Express story ran on Sunday, Britain's Foreign Office had issued a warning on tourist safety. "We believe Trinidad and Tobago to be one of a number of countries where there may be an increased terrorist threat," a statement on the Foreign Office website said.

Since the story, American and British officials have been cautious in public on how much credence to lend to the group. Patrick Manning, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, is treading a careful line, trying not to harm the tourist industry, a mainstay of the local economy, while ordering Special Branch officers to investigate the threat as thoroughly as possible.

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