THE local Muslim group which claims to be planning an attack against United States and British interests in Trinidad and Tobago says it went public in order "to warn the wrongdoers".

A spokesman for the group contacted the Express yesterday to say it would be “highly unIslamic if it attacked without giving warning first”.

In an exclusive Sunday Express report, the radicals said they were manufacturing chemical and biological weapons which they intended to use on US and British interests if “provoked” and if Iraq was attacked.

The spokesman quoted a story about a Muslim leader who had sent a letter to a Roman King warning him that Romans would be attacked if a female prisoner was not released.

“This is why we went public–to warn Prime Minister Patrick Manning, the population and the US and British here,” the spokesman said.

Yesterday, a senior official from Cariri, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, viewed the video footage that the Express was allowed to take in the lab and listened to descriptions of lab substances given by a member of the Islamic group who described himself as a chemical engineer trained in explosives.

The Cariri official, who declined to be publicly identified, said it was her professional opinion that the man in the lab “sounded as though he knows what he is talking about and what he intends to do”.

She said that the man “seems to have some knowledge and, based on what you can get from the Internet, anyone can make a bomb”.

It was explained that because of the number of petrochemical-based industries in Trinidad chemicals were very easy to source.

Based on the video footage, the Cariri official said she could not say anything “definitively” about the compounds on display.

She did say, however, that the chemicals that the man spoke about, if combined under the correct conditions, could be toxic.

Yesterday, ASP Errol Denoon of the Port of Spain CID contacted the Express and said he has been appointed to investigate the report. Express editor-in-chief Sunity Maharaj said the response was anticipated and considered routine and that the newspaper would co-operate “within the boundaries of professional journalism”.

Meanwhile, the group said if any of its members were arrested, they would not be deterred in their plans, adding that there were “back-up plans in place”.

Officials at both the US Embassy and British High Commission declined to comment on the Sunday Express report.

Richard Sherman, head of the Consular Section at the US Embassy, said that it was up to local authorities to make any determination and it would be inappropriate for him to comment. Sherman said this was the official position of American Ambassador Roy Austin. According to Sherman, the US monitors terrorism worldwide but would not comment on matters of security.

Stewart Patt, spokesman for the Consular Affairs Bureau of the US State Department, said yesterday that he could not go into matters of national security and that the State Department was in contact with all US embassies worldwide.

Philip Everest of the British High Commission said any information that passed through the high commission was assessed “very carefully”.