Guyana-US in fierce row over dead terrorist

In this Aug. 6, 2007 photo, Guyanese Abdul Kadir, former member of the South American nation’s Parliament, arrives at the Magistrates’ Court for an extradition hearing in downtown Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Associated Press / Andres Leighton, File

Guyana’s government Tuesday defended a parliamentary motion honoring the life and work of former lawmaker and small town mayor Abdul Kadir who was convicted of a 2007 plot to blow up fuel depots at New York’s John .F. Kennedy Airport, saying it was standard practice rather than admiration for Kadir.

The reaction followed a stronger than usual condemnation of the motion by the US government. The motion was debated during a parliamentary sitting on Friday when lawmakers reflected on the life of Kadir who died in a US prison last year while serving a life sentence along with three other defendants for plotting to blow up fuel farms at the airport.

A US Embassy in a statement on Monday had described the motion as “an insensitive and thoughtless act which demonstrates the assembly’s disregard for the gravity of Kadir’s actions.”

But government in an overnight statement said “it is well known that there is a time-honored convention of the assembly to observe, in a standard and solemn form, the work of former members who are deceased. The observance of this tradition has never been selective, and has included, over the decades, persons of all political parties and persuasions who served in the assembly. “

It said the cabinet “regrets the interpretation given to the motion passed in the assembly on April 26 on the death of Kadir, a former member of parliament,” noting that authorities continue to condemn terrorism in the strongest possible way.

“The government of Guyana reaffirms its commitment to continue and intensify the fight against terrorism in any form and is proud of its record to date in this regard.”

Kadir and three co-defendants were sentenced to life in American prisons for plotting in 2007 an elaborate terrorist attack on fuel depots at the airport. The mission said the resolution, introduced by junior Minister of Agriculture, Valerie Patterson Yearwood at a sitting of parliament on Friday, was uncalled for and unnecessary. Kadir died in prison last year. The minister said she simply acted on the instructions of Government Chief Whip, Amna Ally in tabling the motion and being the lead speaker on it.

Social media and opposition activists have condemned the move by the house to honor Kadir, saying it should have been left alone. The mission said that it was surprised that “members of the assembly, therefore, chose to honor a man who conspired to kill innocent people from across the United States and around the world” given the close level of cooperation between Guyana and the US in security and other areas.

Kadir, a civil engineer, was a former member of parliament. He had complained that he was set up by government informants to be part of the plot but had had no intention of carrying through with it. He was arrested in Venezuela while on a flight to Iran by federal agents, tried, convicted and died in prison. His remains were buried in his bauxite mining hometown of Linden, about 65 miles southeast of the city last year.

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