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AG: US report vindicates T&T

Published: 
Friday, March 17, 2017
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has welcomed the US State Department’s latest crime and safety report on T&T which he says vindicates against sensational foreign reports concerning this country and terrorism.

The report states that terrorism poses a low threat to visitors to T&T and there are no indigenous terrorist groups in the country.

“I’m very pleased they’ve confirmed by tone and content that T&T is positively managing allegations that it’s a feeding ground for Isis,” he said.

The report identified crime as the principal threat to visitors and placed travel restrictions on US government officials/families for Laventille, Sea Lots, Cocorite, Beetham, the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah, as well as downtown Port-of-Spain, Fort George and all beaches after dark.

Port-of-Spain was deemed “a low-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official US government interests.” However, the advisory stated that all should still be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.

It noted articles citing government sources about nationals joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), confirming that many appear to have had prior affiliations with criminal gangs. The report added that while “there are no known indigenous terrorist groups operating in T&T, given the crime rate and some weaknesses in border control, there remains continued concern T&T could be utilised as a transit point for potential terrorists/terrorist organisations”.

“In 2016, T&T took steps to address foreign terrorist fighters. Organisations within the Ministry of National Security identify and closely monitor the travel and activity of persons of interest.

“In addition, the previous government formed a National Counter-terrorism Working group to draft a National Counter-terrorism Strategy. The draft takes into account international and domestic commitments in combating terrorism and the specific nature of the terrorist threat to T&T.

“The new Minister of National Security (Edmund Dillon) continues to discuss national security in the areas of crime and counter-terrorism with stakeholders and Parliament.”

Al-Rawi said: “The report demonstrates what is known locally and stands as a poignant counter-balance to sensational international reports emanating from overseas based on anecdotal irresponsible statements by UNC MP Roodal Moonilal who claimed there were 400 TT fighters (in Isis).

“Contrasting with what he invented, a responsible agency involved in co-operative national security measures with T&T has proven these allegations aren’t to be entertained or relied on. We brought anti-terrorism work from zero to 100 per cent.”

Imtiaz Mohammed, PRO of Muslims of T&T, a group representing independent masjids, said the community said he was heartened by the US report since it noted those who may have gone to Isis were gang-involved.

Hafeez Khan, of the Muslim Roundtable, which represents traditional mosques, is also happy with the US report.

“It’s apt but we need to continue researching those who went and why,” he said.

Dillon noted that the report had negatives about T&T’s crime situation as well as positives on the terrorism perception, detailing security initiatives on crime.