Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is in New York attending the United Nations (UN) 69th General Assembly, stated yesterday this country has agreed to sponsor the UN Security Council resolution on foreign terrorist fighters.
This resolution employs evidence-based traveller risk assessment designed to monitor and detect the movement of terrorists and their supporters without resorting to profiling contrary to laws against discrimination.
Griffith explained yesterday that Trinidad and Tobago will be working with its international allies to monitor suspected terrorists whose names are listed on a terrorist watch list and also join forces in the crackdown on the finances that fuel terrorist activities.
High-level national security sources told the Express that red flags have already been raised with respect to Trinidadian recruitment and involvement in terrorism, in particular ISIS.
Three persons have been beheaded by ISIS this year—two American journalists and a British aid worker.
Footage of the beheadings was released by ISIS via videos, and in one a man with a distinct Trinidadian accent was heard.
The United States moved earlier this week to launch air strikes at ISIS camps in Syria.
Questioned yesterday on whether there are confirmed reports of Trinidadian involvement in terrorism and whether ISIS was successful in recruiting people from this country, Griffith responded, “I would not want to divulge information I have at hand from our intelligence agencies, but what I can say is that Trinidad and Tobago is not isolated…the fact (is) that terrorist activity can very well penetrate our country if we do not prepare.”
“The same way ISIS has been involved in manipulating and luring persons from other countries, it does not mean Trinidad and Tobago can be isolated from that as well. I cannot reveal what information we have but there is a clear and present danger out there and we have to do what is required to deal with that scourge of terrorist activities worldwide,” he added.
Griffith said the old-time saying “God is a Trini” can only do so much to ensure we are not affected by terrorists.
“We do need to face the reality that there is a growing concern of global terrorism and Trinidad and Tobago is not isolated from this,” he said.
He said it was important that this country “keep with the times” to work with our allies and put mechanisms in place to provide deterrents to prevent terrorist activities.
The minister said law enforcement and intelligence agencies will work in ensuring all systems go into place to monitor the movements of suspected terrorists, track who they are interacting with and follow the financial trail.
Griffith said it was unfortunate that Government’s actions in terms of providing the necessary tools for law enforcement—such as armoured carriers—were being met with criticisms.
He said international experts have laughed at him after reading the comments about these carriers being referred to as “toys’’ when this was the way other countries were going in terms of preparing for any events related to terrorist activities.
Griffith said there was a lack of knowledge and understanding about the international requirements for security as well as the threat facing the world.
“I intend to do what is right… it is better to be prepared now than to be prepared later. If we wait for later it will not just cost the country in dollars and cents, but lives will be lost,” said Griffith.
“We have to understand that in the world out there, there is a pattern with global terrorism and it’s not that Trinidad and Tobago has this magical force field around us that can prevent terrorism,” he added.