National security ministers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are due to meet in Trinidad and Tobago in early September and are likely to discuss the “threat posed to the region by the terrorist group ISIS,” St Lucia’s National Security Minister Hermangild Francis has said.
Francis told reporters that he would be following very closely the recent media report that nine Trinidad and Tobago nationals “had been intercepted on their way to join the terrorist group in Syria.”
“This is something that we have to take very seriously – when we talked about the deportees, these are the sorts of things that can be problematic for us. We are looking at it and we will make a statement later,” Francis said.
He said the issue of Caribbean nationals “joining ISIS” represents a security threat to the entire region.
“I think that the Ministers of National Security will be meeting in Trinidad early in September and I think that is one of the topics that we will discuss,” Francis said.
Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister retired Major General Edmund Dillon says the safety of Trinidadians remains a top priority of the Keith Rowley government in light of the new reports that nationals were joining the terrorist group.
“I would just like to start by saying that government is concerned over the state of the national security environment and I would also like to assure the nation that everything is being put in place to ensure their safety and security at this time. One major concern the Ministry has at this time is the emerging trend of Trinidad and nationals being attracted to militant groups overseas,” he told a news conference.
Dillon said that while he could not confirm whether or not the people detained in Turkey are in fact Trinidad and Tobago nationals, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking to verify their nationalities.
“In terms of confirming the nationalities of the nine persons held, we have begun investigations into the matter and have already sent requests to our international partners for information on those held. I have also asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to use his contacts in Turkey, to verify additional information.”
He said that law enforcement authorities were also stepping up their monitoring of people suspected of joining ISIS and praised Attorney General, Faris Al-Rawi, for his continued efforts in seeking to institute the necessary legislative mechanics to monitor nationals, who have fought for ISIS, on their return to Trinidad.
Dillon said that there would be a “reinforced” presence of the police and defence force soldiers on the streets here to deal also with the escalating murder rate that stood above 256.
“When we look at the statistics given to us in recent times we see that out of the nine police divisions in Trinidad, the Northern division has stood out the most we will therefore focus our efforts in the Northern division area.
“Based on what we understand we will focus our efforts on our highways and our streets. We intend to make life very difficult for persons involved in illegal activities.
“They should be allowed to live normal lives and we intend to harass them at every turn. We understand that roughly two percent of our own population is involved in deviant activities, these persons must not be allowed this few to endanger the lives of the law-abiding, peaceable people of our country,” he told reporters.