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Who is accurate?
According to CNN on its website on February 9, 2018, reporters Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr said:
“US troops participated in anti-terror raids Thursday in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago helping to capture four “high value targets,” two US military officials told CNN. The officials said US military personnel from US Southern Command, which oversees US military operations in the region, advised and assisted local Trinidadian security forces in apprehending the four extremists who are believed to be part of a network engaged in plotting terror attacks. The US troops did not participate in any direct combat.”
Answering Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Representatives on Friday, February 16, 2018, Dr Keith Rowley said:
“For the nth time, the interrogation and picking up of people in (TT) has been done 100 per cent by the state agencies of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Which one was it? The CNN report or the answer given by the Prime Minister in Parliament? If we accept the Prime Minister’s response, then was the CNN report inaccurate?
The Guardian reported on February 17 instant at page A2 as follows:
“Rowley said the operation was led ‘100 per cent’ by T&T security personnel. However, he noted other personnel from other countries supply support, information and equipment to the effort.”
It is clear that there are two narratives being advanced about the raids and the detention of people over the Carnival period. The CNN reporters were very specific when they said that US troops “participated in anti-terror raids” in this country on Carnival Thursday. That suggests more than just tactical support.
Dr Rowley has left no doubt that the operation was a “100 per cent” total local effort.
The CNN reporters also said that the US troops had also aided the capture of “four ‘high value targets’” and the source for this information was “two US military officials.”
Nowhere in any of the discussion by local officials was there any revelation that “four ‘high value targets’” had been captured. What has been revealed was that all the people who were detained were released and two were charged with offences unrelated to the purpose of the raids.
The same Guardian report went further to say:
“On why people detained during recent investigations were released if the threat was credible, Rowley added: ‘That’s a matter of and for law enforcement. However, to say that the fact they’ve been released or nothing happened is proof that nothing could have happened is pure folly.’”
This would have been a very strange way to treat “four high value targets” once they had been captured. Were these people local residents or were they overseas visitors who were hiding in this country? These are questions that arise from the CNN report. In matching that report against the local revelations from the Prime Minister, one has to try and figure out who these people could have been.
However, the responses from the Prime Minister on the subject of the Carnival raids and detentions do not seem to reinforce the report by Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr at CNN.
Did US troops play a more active role than the Prime Minister would have us believe or were Browne and Starr guilty of spicing up their report to get headlines? There has been little or no attention paid to this apparent discrepancy between CNN’s reporting and the local reporting on the same events.
As if that were not enough, Newsday reported an answer given by the Prime Minister confirming the existence of an ISIS cell in this country as a misquote. The next day the Attorney General, who gave Newsday the story line, changed his own story to say that he was misunderstood.
Can somebody get the stories straight at home and abroad?
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