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Griffith: Keep a close watch

Shane Superville Thursday, May 18 2017

FORMER Minister of National Security Gary Griffith is calling on current Minister Edmund Dillon to keep close tabs on the 12 nationals. Speaking on Tuesday, Newsday spoke to Griffith said that he was confident in the National Security Minister’s handling of the situation but suggested that close attention be paid to the deportees.

“The persons deported are not criminals, but they should be deemed persons of interest in that they may have information pertaining to matters of national security, whether it is aiding and abetting known terrorists and as such there whereabouts should be known at all times within the boundaries of the law.

At the moment they are of no threat to our security but it would be important information to understand what their intentions were.” Griffith added that while it was difficult to prevent nationals from migrating and joining terrorist organisations, such persons once identified, should be red-flagged and barred from returning to Trinidad or face jail-time upon their arrival.

“It is virtually impossible to stop persons from leaving Trinidad to go to other countries and participate in terrorist activities, but what should be done is that once these persons are positively identified.” Griffith said that while the Ministry of National Security appeared to have the right ideas in the fight against terrorism, he lamented the absence of proper units within the Ministry to treat with the issue of domestic terrorism, adding that local law enforcement agencies were unprepared to tackle returning terrorist fighters and is concered that this may place authorities at a disadvantage to terror groups which may use Trinidad as a recruiting ground for fighters.

“In my tenure as the National Security Minister, I established the Special Operations Group and the Counter Terrorist Intelligence Unit (CTIU), which served to act in a way similar to the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States, to deal with the issue of international terrorism and I was disheartened to learn that the Special Branch of the police service handled the interrogation and information gathering of these individuals, when they do not have the proper training or resources to do so.

What I would urge is that the Minister play a more proactive role in the policy-making process and collaborate with the (Police) Commissioner in intelligence sharing.” Last year 12 Trinidadian nationals were detained by security forces in Turkey as they attempted to enter Syria and were suspected of being affiliates of terrorist group ISIS. In April, the group including two children were deported to Trinidad where they were questioned about their activities and later released.



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