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‘I repeated theirlies to survive’

Published: 
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Approximately two months into detainment Keegan Roopchand and his wife were purportedly visited by people said to be Trinidadian Immigration officers—a male and a female.

“The Jordanians prepared me for what they described as an interview and told me what to say for each of the possible questions. They said they (Jordanians) would be watching me and if I complied, my family would be released. I was fearful that if I didn’t comply my family would be subjected to continued torture and imprisonment,” Roopchand said.

He said the Immigration officer spoke in a Trinidadian accent and presented apparent legitimate identification.

“But I was paranoid he was working for the Jordanians and they were testing me. I thought I would have someone to tell the truth to, but I could trust no-one.”

He said others representing themselves as FBI officers also questioned him.

“Their interrogation techniques were different from the Jordanians, but questioning was along the same line. I lost my identity—I was living a lie to survive.”

After the questioning, he said the Jordanians said there was no need to keep him further.

“They said, ‘we know you’re a good person and you didn’t come here to cause harm. We’re sending you back to your country.’

“They told me my wife and children were in Trinidad and I was to follow days after. No charges were pressed, however, I was kept in a detention facility until my flight.”

He said his release was delayed “for reasons unknown” and a new ticket was required.

“The guards would taunt me, ‘Where’s your ticket? Why are you still here?’ I had to fend for myself, forging alliances within the facility. Weeks later I got a phone for a few minutes to contact family members.

“Returning to Trinidad, neither my wife nor I were escorted by any authorities. In Trinidad, I was received and questioned in a civil and professional manner. Trinidadian authorities expressed concern over my wife’s mental state and alerted me to physical scarring on her back when she was examined.”

Roopchand said they still had questions over why they were detained in the first place.

“Our apartment was far from the Syrian border. We had no illegal items and haven’t engaged in illegal activities in Trinidad or Jordan. Much discomfort and blame has been placed on people due to our detainment. While an apology won’t suffice, I offer it regardless,” he said.

He said his only solace while he was detained was that the Jordanians allowed him to read the Qur’an silently and was told when it was time to pray.

“During prayers, I’d beg Allah to protect T&T’s Muslims. I still do in my prayers as I fear this is not the end of our torment.”

Roopchand said the situation caused rumour-mongering and gossip “much of which originated with defamatory claims in media releases” and media misrepresentation of his family’s situation.

“Some claims are causing national hysteria. I categorically deny and refute these comments, particularly those recently by Newsday.”

He claimed:

• He and his wife didn’t do Hajj in 2014 and even when they did Hajj prior to 2014 didn’t meet those persons who were detained concerning the February Carnival plot.

• They weren’t military trained.

• While sympathetic with conflicts Muslims are undergoing in Syria, Rohingya and Palestine, they had no plans/intentions to visit such locations.

• They weren’t questioned about injecting “poison” into local meats.

• He never engaged in making/supporting any terror devices.

• The existence of Islamic “cells,” videos triggering terrorist attacks and the like are false.

• Also false and designed to create panic: accusations about being provided with “Black Powder” to use in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

National Security sources also yesterday discounted some information in the Newsday article, but stressed that Roopchand remains “of interest.”

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