Caught on camera: Cellphone images seized by SEBIN, Venezuela’s Intelligence Service, allegedly show some of the Trinidadian Muslims, now detained in a Venezuelan jail, on a firing range using high-powered weapons. Photo: Trinidad Express
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- The ministry of foreign affairs in Trinidad and Tobago has confirmed that three imams, who were detained in Venezuela last March, were released from custody on Tuesday.
The Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Caracas advised that the imams are due to return home shortly. The embassy will provide support and ensure that the imams are able to return safely to Trinidad.
The imams were part of a group of Muslims that travelled to Venezuela from Trinidad and were later arrested in a raid at the Plaza Hotel in Caracas on March 19, together with women and children, who were later released.
Cellphone images seized by SEBIN, Venezuela’s intelligence service, allegedly show some of the Trinidadian Muslims engaging in what SEBIN described as “pre-jihad training” on a firing range using high-powered weapons, the Trinidad Express reported.
The training resembled what takes place in the Middle East as Muslims prepare for what they term jihad, or holy war, an important religious duty for Muslims that includes armed struggle against persecution and oppression.
Intense military, arms and ammunition training is part and parcel of their routine and some of this kind of training, SEBIN alleged, was taking place in Venezuela by some of the Trinidadian Muslims.
Sources within the Muslim community in Trinidad told the Express they have received information about Trinidadian Muslims fighting in the Syrian civil war as part of the anti-Assad movement.
Sources said every individual is paid US$150,000 to come to Syria and fight.
Concern has been expressed by intelligence sources in Trinidad that some of their nationals fighting in Syria will return with the radical ability to carry out violent acts in that country.
The ministry of foreign affairs emphasized that, while all diplomatic avenues were pursued to secure the timely release of the detained imams, it was also necessary to ensure that the laws and procedures of Venezuela were fully respected and that due process was allowed to take place in accordance with these laws.