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A helpless feeling

Published: 
Friday, April 20, 2018
Imam fears Trini executed in Iraq is his relative
Imam Nazim Mohammed. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATH

An uneasy feeling has gripped Imam Nazam Mohammed, as reports surfaced on Tuesday that a Trinidadian woman was sentenced to death in Iraq for her affiliation with the Islamic State (ISIS).

Mohammed, who heads the Masjid Umar Ibn Khattab Jamaat in Rio Claro, said if the news is true, it could be either his daughter or one of three granddaughters he believes are being detained by the Iraqi government for their connection with the terror group.

In a surprise move in 2015, Mohammed’s daughter, son-in-law and three teenage granddaughters left their Princes Town home to go to war-torn Syria where ISIS group operated.

For three years, Mohammed, 75, said his daughter kept her location a secret.

“The last I heard from them they were staying in an unknown location in Baghdad. Little or no information was given to me about their whereabouts and the reason for going there,” Mohammed told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

However, in February, Mohammed received a letter from his daughter, who revealed she was being detained with her three daughters by the Iraqi government for supporting ISIS. But Mohammed could not say if all four women were condemned to death or faced life imprisonment for their affiliation with the terrorist group.

Mohammed said son-in-law has also since gone missing and he could not say if he was alive, dead, imprisoned or on the run from authorities.

"We have no information about him," he said.

On Tuesday, Mohammed grew more concerned and worried when reports carried by several Arab and International media outlets stated a Trinidadian woman was one of six women sentenced to death due to their ISIS links. One report in the Daily Sabah Mideast said the five other women condemned to death were from Azerbaijan. One report stated that under Iraqi anti-terrorism law, a total of 97 foreign women have now been condemned to death since January and 185 others to life imprisonment by the courts of Baghdad.

Having declared war against ISIS last December, Iraq has invoked an anti-terrorism law which empowers the court to convict people believed to have helped ISIS.

Although Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on Wednesday said he was unaware a Trini woman had been sentenced to death he said he would make inquiries to see whether the information was fake or real and the circumstances involved.

Yesterday, Mohammed said the recent news has brought him no end of worry and an “uneasy feeling.”

“News coming back to me is that my daughter and granddaughters are detained by authorities for supporting ISIS. It could be my daughter or any one of my granddaughters involved seeing that they are being detained. It’s an uneasy feeling...a helpless feeling."

Calls yesterday to Al-Rawi and National Security Minister Edmund Dillon’s cell phones went unanswered and they did not respond to text messages querying if they had verified the report.

Mohammed said he had no way of verifying the report and will depend on the Government for further details. But if it is his daughter or one of his granddaughters, Mohammed said there was nothing he could do.

“If this is the way she (daughter/granddaughter) has to go we have to praise Allah for that. Alhamdulillah. We believe everything happens by the will of Allah. This is not the life. This life is a just a trial and test for the life thereafter."

Mohammed said his daughter and her family knew fully well what they were going to do in Syria. He said his wife was not holding up well, but has been bracing for the worst.

“We share the same views but she is weaker than me. As a mother you would feel it for your child."

Contacted yesterday, Islamic Front head Umar Abdullah said he too was trying to ascertain if the report was accurate by communicating with journalists in Iraq. However, he said the Government has failed to make pronouncements when atrocities take place against T&T Muslims abroad.

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