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FIGHTING BACK: Shaheed `Roger’ Khan

EMBATTLED local businessman Shaheed `Roger’ Khan yesterday shot back at the Joint Services for linking him to an alleged plot to deliberately create instability in the country, claiming it was a “desperate attempt” to tie him to acts of domestic terrorism.

He also charged that Guyana was “in the midst of the creeping stages of a military coup”.

In a shocking twist in the hunt for the high-powered AK-47 rifles stolen from Army headquarters, the Joint Services Saturday night did not name Khan, but announced they are checking links that a criminal drug enterprise recently began recruiting ex-Police and soldiers to undertake a violent rampage to create instability in the country.

“Investigators are working to establish the accuracy of new information that this group has over the past two weeks embarked on recruitment of persons, most of whom have had law enforcement and military backgrounds. It is felt that the recruitment drive is part of a larger plan to create instability through acts of criminal violence against innocent civilians,” the Joint Services stated.

The Joint Services said one of the stolen AK-47 rifles was discovered at Enterprise, East Coast Demerara and two suspects, whose leader is on the run from the United States, was arrested. The gun find was linked to the men who Thursday terrorised residents of Nonpariel and Enterprise and shot dead Ramjit Rampersaud.

The Joint Services did not name “the fugitive from U.S. justice” who they said the gun find was linked to but the only local person wanted by the U.S. at this time in connection with drug trafficking is Khan.

In a statement emailed to the media last night, Khan claimed the Joint Services release was a “highly speculative statement that is intended to lead the general public up the garden path to someone they described as a fugitive from U.S. justice”.

“It is clear from the description that the statement hopes to implicate me in more ways than one. The Joint Services release is neither a release nor does it truly emanate from the Joint Services. It is a GDF (Guyana Defence Force) statement that does not set any factual or evidential basis for the conclusion that they hope to conjure up for public consumption. In this sense it is clearly propagandist in nature and it is very telling that the investigators were `working to ESTABLISH (not verify) the accuracy’ of this information while still making bold pronouncements”, Khan argued.

He said the “insinuations of the Joint Services that I am planning to destabilize my country go against every principle which I stand for. It is because of my fierce stand against the `armed African resistance fighters’ and my determination to expose the conspiracy involving the American Government, PNCR, Guyana Defence Force and Commissioner of Police that I find myself being attacked by these very entities.

I have placed my life and that of my family and friends in grave danger in defence of the defenceless; what would I gain from an unstable country? It was because of my intervention in 02/03 that many innocent lives were saved; and again beginning with the meeting with the American Embassy on March 06th, 2006 when I naively thought that I might solicit the assistance of the Americans to intervene to prevent the further loss of innocent lives.”

The U.S. is in the process of seeking the extradition of Khan to face charges that he trafficked cocaine into that country. Police here also say they want him for questioning.

The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, unsealed a grand jury indictment on May 3 which charges that Khan conspired to import drugs between January 2001 and March 2006.

The Joint Services said the rusted high-powered AK-47 rifle was discovered in Enterprise Saturday during a Joint Services operation. Sources yesterday said it was found in an incomplete wooden house on the Enterprise Railway Embankment.

The operation, which the Joint Services said was conducted in the Melanie Damishana, Enterprise, and Nonpariel areas, was launched to pursue leads that linked two named suspects to the robbery and fatal shooting at Nonpariel and Enterprise Thursday night.

In addition to the rifle, three magazines and 90 matching rounds of ammunition were also recovered, the Joint Services said in the statement.

Prior to the discovery of the weapon, five males and one female were arrested while a generator and bicycle reportedly stolen during the robbery, were recovered from an abandoned building west of Melanie and north of the railway embankment, the statement said.

Sources said victims of the Nonpariel robbery yesterday identified a man, who hails from Victoria, East Coast Demerara, as one of the robbers during an identification parade at Police headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown. However, they said he was not among the suspects picked up at Melanie Damishana during the Joint Services raid on Saturday.

The sources said the Victoria man was picked up by the police early yesterday morning just for the identification parade and was in custody up to press time.

Khan charged that the “planting of evidence on persons and properties connected to me by members of the Joint Services will be forthcoming. Anyone who dares to challenge the `conspiracy’ will be harassed and become victims of attacks by military ranks, as was done (yesterday) on the home of former policeman, Paul Rodrigues.”

According to Khan, a letter by Rodrigues was published in yesterday’s Kaieteur News “challenging the legality of military operations in our society”.

He contended that as a result of the publication, Rodrigues’ home was invaded at 05:00 h by “military ranks demanding to know the whereabouts of Mr. Rodrigues, threatening his wife and children with incarceration. No warrant was produced and his wife was told to tell her husband to desist from any further letters to the press.”

“We are in the midst of the creeping stages of a military coup”, Khan alleged, adding that the “evidence is clear for those of us who want see.”

“All of the operations of the so-called Joint Services are intended to hunt me down and execute me if found; the wanted bulletin is the precursor to my execution. I am asking the government to pay closer attention of the modus operandi of the military. Where are the voices of so many in our society that are seeing what is going on?”

On Thursday evening, Rampersaud and his sister Seuranie Rampersaud were sitting on a bench awaiting transportation when one of three gunmen casually went up and sat between them, and shot the man in his chest at close range.

Shortly before, five men carrying AK-47 rifles terrorised worshippers at the Nonpariel Hindu mandir and attacked a next door business place. The gang appeared just after 18:00 h when the mandir on Sixth Street was filled with worshippers at the usual Thursday night service and held them up.

The gunmen’s target was the Puran family who live next door to the mandir. One of the five gunmen stayed with the worshippers while his accomplices went over to the unsuspecting family.

At the time, Puran was not at home as he had left to pick up the pandit, but his wife Pam and children Peter and Polly were inside when the bandits barged into their home through an unlocked door.

Residents said they beat and terrorised them before leaving with an undisclosed sum of money, jewellery, an electricity generator and other articles.

It is believed that the same group of AK-47 bandits shot and killed Ramjit after leaving Nonpariel.

The 30 AK-47 rifles and five pistols were discovered missing from Army headquarters, Camp Ayanganna early this year.

Guyana Chronicle