American, Canadian held on suspicion of terrorism, drugs
By Latoya Giles
An American man and a Guyana-born Canadian national have been arrested and are currently in police custody under the suspicion that they are linked to terrorist acts and drug trafficking.
This newspaper was told by a senior police official that the American citizen who has been identified as Akbar Muhammad was arrested some time around 03:00hrs yesterday at the Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
Muhammad, who reportedly hails from St. Louis, Illinois, USA, is said to be an advisor to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The Canadian, whose name was given as Phillip Simon, was reportedly arrested a short distance away from the Criminal Investigation Department, Eve Leary, shortly after lunch yesterday.
Sources close to the investigation disclose that the two suspects entered Guyana legally via the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, almost one week ago.
Further, this newspaper was told that both suspects have denied allegations that they are linked to any illegal organisation.
“We have superb intelligence on the detained persons,”a senior police officer said yesterday. When questioned about a possible collaboration with any overseas policing agency, the official would not disclose.
However, there is the belief among many who learnt of the arrests, that the persons were detained as a result of international cooperation with the United States of America. A news alert from a community channel yesterday stated that Minister Akbar Muhammad had presented lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week on that station.
It added that he was expected to “meet the people” in a public forum at Linden and another at the African Cultural & Development Association (ACDA) Centre on Thomas Road, Thomas Lands.
“The minister was arrested sometime after 3:00 A.M. by the Guyana Police on the accusation by the “American Government,” that he may be a terrorist,” the brief statement concluded.
Meanwhile, this newspaper was told that prominent Defence Counsel, Nigel Hughes, was yesterday retained to represent the two men.
When contacted late yesterday Mr. Hughes stated that his clients were arrested under the suspicion of being terrorists. He noted that Mr. Muhammad was picked up at the Princess Hotel at Providence, while Simon was arrested when he was attempting to visit Mr. Muhammad at CID.
Mr. Hughes asserted that since the arrests the police have been unable to put forward any piece of evidence which might substantiate their claim.
“I’ve questioned the police about my clients’ arrests and they are unable to put forward any information linking them to anything,” Hughes told this newspaper.
The lawyer disclosed that his clients were in Guyana having talks with youths ages 12-15 in Buxton, East Coast Demerara. He also noted that they had two television programmes which were aired on Channel Nine.
Hughes further told this publication that Minister Muhammad has managed to contact his congressman in Illinois, USA, who then made contact with the American Embassy here.
“After the contact was made here in Guyana….officials from the embassy were simply outraged at the arrest,” Hughes said.
According to the lawyer, during his clients’ visit to Guyana, they met several dignitaries, including the Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green.
Moreover, the lawyer disclosed that he will be filing a writ of Habeas Corpus tomorrow in the High Court, since both clients intend to diligently pursue the matter.
Who is Akbar Muhammad?
Minister Akbar Muhammad is an International Representative for the Nation of Islam. He has offices and residences in Accra, Ghana and the United States, has travelled extensively around the world, mainly in North, West and South Africa.
He lectures to civic organizations, students and business leaders about the advantages of doing business and traveling in Africa and the Caribbean.
Minister Muhammad’s extensive work and travel in Africa are reflected in his column, “Africa and the World” which is featured weekly in several newspapers internationally. Muhammad has been regarded as one of the most knowledgeable individuals on the life and works of Minister Louis Farrakhan. He is currently working on Minister Farrakhan’s biography on the history of the Nation of Islam from 1930 – 1985.
Minister Louis Farrakhan Muhammad is the leader of the Chicago, Illinois-based Nation of Islam (NOI).