By Michael Jordan
Now that the guns are relatively silent, and the killing spree seems to have ended, this is perhaps as good a time as any to look back at some of the unsolved cases that sprung out of the country’s crime wave over the years.
And perhaps, none of the cases is quite as strange as the saga of Mohamed Hassan Ibrahimi.
Ibrahimi, an Islamic cleric from Iran, arrived in Guyana in 2002. Eighteen months later he had married a Guyanese wife and had established the International Islamic College for Advanced Studies, located at Lot 42 B United Nations Place. He was also the school’s Director.
One day in 2003, Ibrahimi turned up at the Kaieteur News. He was drenched in blood and explained that he had been robbed.
But then, Guyana was in the throes of violence and that attack was soon forgotten.
It was in 2004, when the Islamic scholar and his wife, who lived in Queenstown were expecting their first child that their lives began to unravel.
At around 22:30 hrs on April 2, 2004, Ibrahimi stepped out of his college. The scholar was accompanied by an employee, Raymond Halley.
The two men entered Ibrahimi’s white Toyota Carina and the cleric was about to drive off when two men, brandishing assault rifles, blocked their path.
“Nobody move!” the gunmen shouted.
Ibrahimi and Halley raised their hands in surrender and the gunmen opened fire, riddling the car with bullets and wounding Halley in the right foot.
The gunmen then dragged the terrified Ibrahimi out of his vehicle and forced him into a dark-coloured car, which was parked nearby. Slamming the doors shut, the men then raced away east into Brickdam.
Within hours of the daring abduction, ranks from the police force’s Anti-Kidnapping Squad had launched a search for the missing cleric.
Ibrahimi’s associates also began their own efforts to locate him. Muslim groups scoured various sections of Georgetown and the East Coast of Demerara. But not a trace of the Iranian was found.
One thing soon became clear. Money was not the motive for the kidnapping, since the abductors made no ransom demand.
Speculation was rife as to who was behind Ibrahimi’s disappearance. Was it the gunmen who were hiding out in Buxton and Agricola? If so, why was there no ransom demand?
Was it the work of the feared ‘phantom’ gang that had sprung up during the crime wave? If so, what did the ‘phantoms’ want with an Iranian cleric?
On Thursday, April 9, a week after the abduction, police received a tip about his possible whereabouts.
The information indicated that Ibrahimi was being held against his will at the ISA Islamic School in East Street. Ranks from the Anti-Kidnapping Squad cordoned the area and entered the premises where students were preparing for exams.
Although they found no trace of Ibrahimi, the ranks detained the principal, his deputy and about four other staff members.
They were all released after intense questioning. The arrests and the police search sparked outrage by senior members of the Guyana Islamic Trust.
The days passed and the trail grew colder, other incidents of violence took precedence over the kidnapping of Mohamed Ibrahimi. A gunman named Gopaul Chowtie was shot dead during a bizarre robbery at Success, East Coast Demerara. The body of 43-year-old Mohamed Shafeek, called ‘Fatty’ was found, with a bullet wound to the chest, in the trunk of a car at Vigilance, East Coast Demerara.
Majeed Ghanie, a cane harvester, was gunned down while watching television in his Corriverton home.
I was at work at around 21:00 hrs on Tuesday, May 4, 2004, when someone telephoned me.
The caller disclosed that police had located a two-and a half-feet-deep grave some 400 yards off the St. Cuthbert’s trail and about three-and-a-half miles in from the highway.
The victim, a man, had been placed face-down, his mouth and hands were duct-taped and he had been shot twice in the forehead.
The victim was dressed in a black jersey beneath a plaid shirt and a pair of brown trousers. These were the same clothes that Ibrahimi was wearing when he was kidnapped.
The following day, police allowed Abdul Kadir, a former parliamentarian and close associate of the missing cleric, to view the body.
After viewing a silver cap on the lower jaw, a gold finger ring, and the victim’s clothing, Kadir informed police that the dead man was indeed Mohamed Ibrahimi.
Detectives believe that Ibrahimi’s kidnappers executed him about three days after he was abducted.
The investigators believed that Ibrahimi’s captors forced him to walk through the trail until he reached the spot where he was executed.
But according to police, no bullet casings or warhead were recovered.
Reports at the time indicated that about three weeks before the discovery, a resident from the predominantly Amerindian area was walking along a trail when he spotted a strange, dark-coloured pickup with what appeared to be bloodstains.
According to this report, he approached the vehicle with a view to getting a drop, but the pickup sped away.
The man then saw what appeared to be a shallow grave nearby.
He reportedly pushed a stick into the ground. It was covered with blood when he pulled it out.
He reported the matter to his Village Captain, but there was no immediate report to the police.
A few weeks later, the police got word of what had transpired and attempted to locate the captain and witness.
Investigators immediately suspected that the grave contained the body of the Iranian cleric, since the vehicle the witness saw appeared to be similar to one that was seen parked outside the International Islamic College when Ibrahimi was kidnapped.
In response to the gruesome discovery, the Iranian government sent four detectives to Guyana to assist in the investigations. They visited the murder scene, but, like the local cops, they found nothing.
Ibrahimi’s wife has since migrated, and the case remains cold except…
A few weeks ago, someone was talking about a high-profile case and dropped a hint about a possible “Iranian connection” to this case. Nothing more was said but something tells me that, before the year ends, the answers will emerge about the strange case of Mohamed Hassan Ibrahimi.
If you have any information on this case or other unsolved murder, please write to us at or Lot 24 Saffon Street address.
You can also contact us on telephone numbers 22-58465, 22-58491, or 22-58458.
You can also contact Michael Jordan on his email address [email protected]
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