Terrorists of convenience

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‘Terrorism’ in Mauritius is not your garden variety terrorism found elsewhere. In the absence of Kalashnikovs and RPGs, the government must make do with what it has. And so, most of those prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws in Mauritius would not really qualify as terrorists at all anywhere else.
There is the case of Ish Sookun and Kishan Sooklall, who were arrested under anti-terrorism legislation back in 2016 because somebody had used their internet café to send threatening messages to the prime minister. Just to see how desperate our poor governments have been to find ‘terrorists’, remember back in 2004 when the MMM-MSM government proposed expanding anti-terrorism laws to include pranks by radio shows? Or the argument the MMM-MSM came up with when introducing the PoTA, that unless they did that the UN would impose sanctions on Mauritius? It was complete nonsense, of course, but then reality has never been allowed to get in the way of a good terrorist-hunt.

But aside from not really being involved in ‘terrorism’, our local terrorists have another sterling quality about them: they are incredibly convenient! So when the government decided to amend the Immigration Act to allow the prime minister to ban whoever he likes from getting a residence permit, the justification segued quite smoothly from combating ‘fake marriages’ to preventing ‘terrorists’ and other criminals from coming in. When it turned out subsequently that the first victim of that law was the former pilot, Patrick Hofman, who took on the government’s cronies at Air Mauritius, the government was in an embarrassing spot: surely it cannot be seen as silly enough to come up with a law just to wreak vengeance on Hofman for his impertinence. And so, lo and behold, a terrorist threat to the prime minister magically appears! Unlike terrorists elsewhere, our ‘terrorists’ are kind enough to send an email and advertise their intentions before striking. And our police force is a past master at ‘discovering’ such threats precisely when the government needs them. So the Immigration Act is needed after all!
In this, the ‘terrorists’ have much in common with the drug mafia, who too seem to be creatures entirely of convenience. In the 1980s, when his government was seeing its own parliamentarians caught in Amsterdam smuggling drugs, and a drugs commission was embarrassing the government, then MSM leader Anerood Jugnauth donned a bulletproof vest and shouted from the rooftops that he was getting threats from the drug mafia. Once the hysteria died down, no drug baron was caught for trying to kill Anerood Jugnauth, the bulletproof jacket no longer appeared and what happened was an inexplicable return to normalcy.

Remember when the Lam Shang Leen Commission was finding all sorts of connections between drug traffickers and MSM people? Once again, the drug mafia came to the rescue. The prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth, said that he and his father Anerood were getting death threats once again and claimed that the drug mafia was working alongside the opposition and media to overthrow his government. When the hearings ceased, nobody knew which opposition members were working with the drug mafia, no drug barons were arrested for giving death threats to the prime minister and the minister mentor, and later on, the same media that presumably was in cahoots with the drug mafia were invited round for a cup of tea.

By always pulling the government’s chestnuts out of the fire, there can only be two conclusions one can reach: both the terrorists and the drug mafia are the biggest patriots around or there are some overheated imaginations at the PMO willing to do and say anything – no matter the consequences – to get out of a tight scrape.

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