Monday 16 July, 2018

Feared 'Al-Qaeda' biker gang bringing terror to Jamaica

The local Jamaican police say they know very little of the group.

But just the mention of the name ‘Al-Qaeda’ in the parish of Westmoreland triggers nervous stares and looks of unease.

There is so much fear that even those who claimed to have knowledge of, and were willing to speak about the operations of the group of notorious motorcycle riders from the parish, all did so in hushed tones.

The subject came up during a recent fact-finding trip by a Loop News team to sections of the parish last week, in preparation for a component of an extended ongoing road safety feature.

Police in the parish, while trying to gather information on the modus operandi of the thugs whose group is named after the militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organisation that was founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, say they have so far learnt very little.

The mysterious outfit, with their reign of terror, has managed to tap into the culture of silence that has for years hindered law enforcement authorities in their bid to clamp down on the country’s spiraling crime problem.

The Loop News probe revealed how members of the unit with lives centred around sex, guns and money, have managed to largely stay below the national security radar while earning millions of dollars from their underground operations.

A source with knowledge of the group’s activities was among those who spoke to the news team, and made a number of eye-opening revelations in the process.

“Right now a few people know about the group, but simply put, it is a unit of motorcycle operators who started out as stunt riders, but all of that has changed, as the group members have started to link with players in the deadly lotto scam trade,” said the source.

“In a Westmoreland bike taxi feature heavily, and every little man see it as a way to earn him daily bread, but for the Al-Qaeda group they have pushed the bike taxi thing to another level. Them no transport day-to-day passengers, them do cross-country trips.

“When a regular man can make $3,000 per day off bike taxi, the Al-Qaeda group members them all a make $15,000 to $20,000 per day. A scammer want to make a trip to go pick up some money, a Al-Qaeda man them a the right people who can transport the criminals, and if them run up in a police, it easier to get away."

But he outlined that the trips, even though they were more profitable than regular bike taxi operations, are more risky and, in fact, deadly.

“Every month at least two or three members of the group dead in an accident, because them a stunt riders and them take some risk sometimes, it is like them nuh normal,” the key source further explained.

The police, when contacted, said they have not been able to verify the claims that have been made about the underground group’s operations.

But Loop’s probe produced even more, as a source pointed to one special assignment for Al-Qaeda group members as the job to bring persons to individuals who dabble in obeah and the black arts generally.

“People link them man them regularly to carry them go obeah man. If them waan move from Westmoreland to the next side of the island, it’s no problem, with a trip like that run all $15,000,” a sourced indicated.

“Right now the members of that group, instead of getting involved in the day-to-day activities of picking up children from school or transporting regular members of the public from one point to the next, they engage in mostly high-risk activities that can bring about big money within short periods of time."

And after they are finished making large piles of cash, the gang members are said to mostly engaged in other dangerous activities, such as bike racing and stunting.

“Them man deh involved inna some of the deadliest bike racing to the point where the rate at which they are involved in motorcycle accidents nuh normal, but it appears that they do not care,” another resident of the parish told the Loop News team.

“It is as if most of them on drugs, because after they make large sums of money, they do the most flossing and engage in some of the most dangerous bike races and stunts, with some of these acts being carried out by gang members who cast bets on who can be the most daring."

Residents of sections of the parish said the Al-Qaeda riders create a bad name for responsible bike operators who are simply trying to make ends meet by transporting regular members of the public and items which they purchase.

The police said they have intensified their operation in the parish and are looking to roll out a number of new measures in an attempt bring some members of the notorious group to book.

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