Trinidad 1990

The Caribbean’s Islamist Insurrection

Sanjay Badri-Maharaj

‘Trinidad 1990' details the dramatic events of July 1990 and the successfully operation that quelled it. It was a coming of age for the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force which, without external intervention, contained and then defeated an Islamist uprising. Illustrated by more than 100 photographs, maps and color profiles.
Date Published :
September 2020
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Latin America@War
Illustration :
71 b/w photos, 3 b/w & 1 color maps, 7 color profiles, 3 color figures, 1 table
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781913118723
Pages : 68
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Available


Trinidad has the distinction of contributing the highest number of recruits per capita to the cause of notorious ‘Islamic State’.

The case of Trinidad and Tobago (usually abbreviated ‘Trinidad’) makes for an interesting study as on the face of it, a well-integrated Muslim population, a strong welfare state and an absence of political persecution on any religious or racial basis should not provide fertile recruiting ground for Jihadist ideology. However, the converse is most certainly the case as not only is attraction to such extremist causes growing but the numbers of Trinidadian nationals willing to fight for IS is also increasing. What is happening in Trinidad is symptomatic of a broader problem as Jihadi groups have widened their reach where apparently unconnected groups can now ally with the ideology and resource bases of better known groups without formally being part of them.

The flirtation with Islamist ideology on Trinidad dates back many years and through a combination of incompetence, political naiveté and unfortunate compromises. Indeed, the country faced the only Islamist coup in the entire Latin America – Caribbean region and the hemisphere.

On 27 July 1990, a radical Afro-Trinidadian Islamist group, the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, led by Imam Yasin Abu Bakr – an Afro-Trinidadian convert to Islam previously known as Lennox Philip, and a former policeman – launched an armed insurrection with 113 of his followers. Their attack quickly sacked the entire leadership of the local government: the then Prime Minister of Trinidad, Arthur N.R. Robinson, most of his cabinet and several opposition Members of Parliament, plus the staff of the government-owned television and radio networks were held hostage for six dramatic days. The Parliament Building, the television and radio studios were occupied by armed insurgents and were severely damaged during the standoff with security forces that ensued. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service collapsed within the first hour of the insurrection, abandoning the capital city, Port of Spain, and the military took hours to assemble a viable fighting force.

This book details the background to the dramatic events of July 1990 as well as the insurrection itself and the highly successfully military operation that quelled it. It was a coming of age for the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force which, without requiring external intervention, contained and then defeated an Islamist uprising.

‘Trinidad 1990’ is illustrated by more than 100 authentic photographs from local archives, maps and color profiles, all of which serve to illustrate what became a little-known, yet highly-successful operation against international jihadism.

About The Author

Sanjay Badri-Maharaj from Trinidad, received his MA and PhD from the Department of War Studies, Kings College London. His thesis was on India’s Nuclear Weapons Program. He has written and published extensively, including two books – The Armageddon Factor: Nuclear Weapons in the India-Pakistan Context (2000) and Indian Nuclear Strategy: Confronting the Potential Nuclear Threat from both Pakistan and China (2018). He has served as a consultant to the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad and was a visiting International Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. This is his first instalment for Helion.


"​Highly recommended."

- AMPS Indianapolis

"The prose is clear and moves right along -- nicely done."

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

"For those interested in lesser-known historical events, this is an excellent book to pick up. It is a fascinating story that continues to have an effect in the world today..."

- Internet Modeler

"Thanks to the author for this overlooked and unusual event into scrutiny."


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