1990 failed coup in Trinidad

The Jamaat al Muslimeen was founded in 1982 by
Yasin Abu Bakr , a former policeman and convert to Islam, and established a compound at No. 1 Mucurapo Road in Port of Spain, on land owned by the Port of Spain City Corporation. In 1969, the property was granted to the Islamic Missionaries Guild by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, but the transfer had never completed because the land belonged to the city, not the central government. In 1984 a court ordered the Muslimeen to vacate the property and demolish the buildings they had constructed without planning permission, including an incomplete
mosque . Abu Bakr refused to comply and served a 21-day jail sentence for contempt of court in 1985. [1][2] Anti-drug campaign
In the mid-1980s the Muslimeen launched a
vigilante campaign against the illegal drug trade. Muslimeen members drove drug dealers out of “drug blocks” and seized cocaine, marijuana and weapons. They organised their members into a paramilitary force and used their reputation to recruit more members, especially among the disaffected Afro-Trinidadian youth of Port of Spain. [1][3] Political and economic climate
After winning the general elections in December 1986 , the National Alliance for Reconstruction government implemented policies to deal with the economic decline triggered by a combination of declining petroleum production and falling oil prices. [4][5] :410–417 The unemployment rate had risen from a low of 10% in 1981 to a high of 22% in 1986. [5] :421 The NAR government implemented a programme of spending cuts, tax increases and
devalued the Trinidad and Tobago dollar in an attempt to reverse the country’s economic decline. Cost of living adjustments (COLA) to public servants were suspended in 1987 and their salaries were cut by 10% in 1990. A value-added tax (VAT) was also introduced in the 1990 budget. [4] Dissent within the ruling party led to a split within the NAR governmens. Four former members of the United Labour Front who were expelled from Cabinet formed the Caucus for Love, Unity and Brotherhood (CLUB 88) on March 1988, and went on to form a new party, the United National Congress , on 16 March 1988. [5] :436–470
In response to the government’s economic
austerity programmes, trade unions organised a one-day strike on 6 March 1989, and a March Against Hunger on 22 April. On 8 February 1990 a group of 16 trade unions and a variety of civil society organisations including the Jamaat al Muslimeen formed the Summit of People’s Organisations (SOPO). [4] In the eight weeks preceding the coup attempt, nurses had engaged in ongoing street protests in Port of Spain. [6] The government’s Social Welfare Department and the public hospitals lacked the resources to handle the increase in demands for their services. The Muslimeen stepped in, offering food, eyeglass frames , and organised medical and dental appointments. For the unemployed and homeless, especially young men, they provided structure and belonging. [5] :470–477
In 1988, police raided the commune of Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Muslim organisation led by Yasin Abu Bakr, seizing weapons and ammunition and arresting 34 members. The members were charged with larceny, robbery, illegal possession of weapons, rape and murder. This event led members of Jamaat al Muslimeen to believe that the government was being oppressive and had illegally occupied their land. Before the coup d’état attempt, Abu Bakr was arrested several times on charges of contempt of court and illegal demonstrations. [7] According to a 2014 interview by former minister of communications Gerald Hadeed, two days before the coup attempt, prime minister Robinson was warned that there might be an attempt to overthrow his government on that day and he was asked to have the scheduled sitting postponed. Robinson declined, however, claiming that he had taken an oath of office and he would not deviate from it in front of a potential threat. [8] Coup d’état attempt
TTT Anchorman Jones P. Madeira (right) informs the nation that the Jamaat al Muslimeen has taken over the nation on Friday 27 July 1990. Leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, Yasin Abu Bakr (centre) and other members of the organisation look on.
On Friday 27 July 1990 the Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted to stage a coup d’état against the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Forty-two insurgents stormed the Red House , the seat of
Parliament , and took Robinson and most of his cabinet hostage, while seventy-two of their accomplices attacked the offices of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), the only television station in the country at that time, and the Trinidad Broadcasting Company , then one of only two radio stations in the country at 730 AM. At 6:00 pm, Yasin Abu Bakr appeared on television and announced that the government had been overthrown and that he was negotiating with the
army . He called for calm and said that there should be no looting.
Robinson was beaten, degraded and shot in the lower right leg when he tried to order the army to attack the militants. The army and the police responded by sealing off the area around the Red House. Widespread looting and arson took place in
Port of Spain and other parts of the East–West Corridor , but the remainder of the country was calm. American Airlines and British Airways cancelled all flights to the capital city. [7] A state of emergency was declared by acting president
Emmanuel Carter .
Several cabinet members who had not been present in the Red House at the time of the attack set up office in the Trinidad Hilton. On the night of 27 July, the army took control of the TTT transmitter on Cumberland Hill, thus taking TTT off the air. After six days of negotiation, the Muslimeen surrendered on 1 August and were taken into custody.
The Jamaat al Muslimeen members who surrendered were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released. The Privy Council later invalidated the amnesty, but they were not re-arrested. [9] About 24 people died during the coup attempt, with millions in property losses. Among the dead was member of parliament for Diego Martin Central, Leo Des Vignes . Many people saw the coup attempt as the end of the power of the National Alliance for Reconstruction government. [9] In late July or early August 2010, the court ruled that many properties owned by the Jamaat would be sold to make up for the cost of the destruction of buildings in the coup attempt. An inquiry was formally launched in 2010. On 13 March 2014, the final report [10] was presented to President
Anthony Carmona. [11] In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in the United States, Trinidad and Tobago police raided three mosques but no weapons were found. On 22 September, Abu Bakr was detained and questioned for two hours at London’s Heathrow airport while en route to an Islamic conference in
Libya. Trinidadian police accused the group of receiving money and training from Libya and Sudan. In the same year, Florida police uncovered a plot to smuggle 60 rifles and 10 submachine guns to the Jamaat in 1990.



  1. Reply

    Very iinformative

  2. Reply

    That was a close one

  3. Reply

    nice post!!

  4. Reply

    Good one

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