Monday, November 14, 2005

Bakr's role in shaping this society's current culture has not yet been closely studied, and while it remains largely immeasurable, it is by no means insignificant. When he abandoned his name, Lennox Phillip, and assumed the title of Imam Yasin Abu Bakr many years ago, he invested himself with a new and striking identity.

His Libyan connections and the arms and money that he wielded gave him an aura of mystique and power. For many he was a romantic figure, outspoken and unafraid to challenge authority. He shrewdly found the mechanism to widen his appeal by invoking reverence through the religious platform that would provide the structure for his recruitment of young minds.

Drawn to this figure that promised to bestow an identity that would yield status, hundreds of youngsters flocked towards him. The anonymity that would otherwise have cloaked these poor youth for life could now be shed under a regime that provided more than a uniform that set them apart, but gave them new faces and stature. A paramilitary lifestyle interwoven with the rituals of Islam and closely aligned to the concept of enforcing righteousness through the muzzle of the gun, created a cadre of young people who learnt to follow a leader who would feed, clothe and arm them as he pursued his own dreams of glory.

-- From Vaneisa Baksh's op-ed piece on the arrest of Abu Bakr in today's Barbados Nation (thanks to Ryan Naraine for pointing it out).

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