There are now 89 T&T nationals–including families–known to Government who have joined the Islamic State of Iraq (Isis) in the last three plus years, T&T Guardian has confirmed.
That is the most up to date figure on the situation which was given by Government early last Saturday morning, shortly after deadly terrorist attacks on Paris claimed 129 victims, left 350 wounded and the world reeling in shock and anger. Isis has claimed responsibility.
Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith and former National Operations Centre head Garvin Heerah were among experts who yesterday came out in support of laws to block T&T-born Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFS) returnees on their way back, well before they reach T&T.
Muslim community leader attorney Nafeesa Mohammed also urges rapport between state apparatus and the fragmented leadership of the Muslim community to ascertain who's gone to Isis and why so "innocent" people in the scenario wouldn't suffer.
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon was quoted yesterday as saying Isis poses "no threat to T&T right now" and there's no law to stop them returning. He said if they'd committed international crime, T&T could work with foreign partners to bring them to justice, but "for now they're still T&T citizens."
Dillon yesterday subsequently assured, authorities are monitoring returnees. On the 89 persons with Isis, which T&T Guardian learned about on Saturday, Dillon said there are 80-plus, including about 35 men and other persons who are family members. He said several of the T&T fighters have been killed.
On assessments earlier in the year from intelligence sources that a number of those who had gone were from T&T's criminal fringe element, rather than conservative Muslim basis, Dillon said that assessment was still on par and those persons were believed to be intelligent.
Dillon assured that he was aware of laws that block returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) in other countries before they reach T&T. He said that is done with international allies.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi who had been Paris two weeks ago for a conference, told T&T Guardian yesterday, T&T has met with international agencies to track people who leave T&T and head to Syria and Turkey to join FTFs. He added, "We're also looking at Section 22b of the Anti Terrorism Act dealing with terrorist financing and operationalising in fuller form.
We'll apply existing anti-terrorism laws in tracking and monitoring of alleged Foreign Terrorist Fighters from T&T, and specifically cases concerning potential returns. We also have a unit looking at strengthening of the package of laws to deal with terrorism and if it may be relevance to T&T's context."
"We assure T&T we're sparing no effort in co-ordinating multiple resources in dealing with this so there can be efficient and confident positive outcome for T&T's peace of mind and security."