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No terrorist bases in TT

Clint Chan Tack Thursday, April 29 2004

The presence of “hostile sectors” in Trinidad and Tobago makes this country a prime location for international terrorist bases, but there is no hard evidence that such bases exist here, according to Rand Corporation senior policy analyst, Dr Angel Rabasa. Dr Rabasa, who spoke at the monthly meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce of TT at the Hilton Trinidad yesterday, said terrorists operate successfully worldwide because of “the presence of communities that could provide the support for extremist and terrorist networks.” He said such communities exist in TT.


“The fact that these communities exist, creates opportunities for foreign terrorist and extremist groups to come in and recruit local operatives, who may be familiar with the local situation and therefore more effective in enabling them to conduct support for other types of operations. TT is at some risk at becoming host to terrorist organisations,” he warned. Rabasa said TT is the only Caribbean and Western Hemispheric nation to have experienced Islamic violence (the attempted coup of July 1990) and there have been unconfirmed reports since then of Jamaat-al-Muslimeen involvement in local crime.


“In the case of Islamic terrorist groups, you have to look for what are the possible modes of influence for these groups. They would come into mosques or Islamic schools. They would send operatives into mosques that are considered sympathetic to their particular ideology,” he explained. He also observed that there were TT nationals who travelled to countries like Pakistan to conduct Islamic studies and Pakistan was one place where pockets of radical Islamists thrived.


TT’s reputation as a major LNG supplier, its telecommunications infrastructure, direct flights to the United States and decades-old regional criminal networks and the host of international corporations located here, also increase TT’s attractiveness to international terrorists. Rabasa explained that only through proper intelligence work could terrorist activity be thwarted, and the challenge for regional governments was striking the balance between the observance of civil liberties and unearthing terrorists before they had an opportunity to strike.

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