(Trinidad Guardian) Intelligence agencies are building profiles—based on geographical areas—of people who may be going to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terror network and who might be behind it locally, says National Security Minister Edmund Dillon.
Dillon fielded questions on the issue at a media briefing at his Port-of- Spain ministry yesterday, where he also spoke about the crime situation. The briefing followed a meeting of law enforcement top brass and US officials who were seen leaving the ministry.
Dillon said Government was concerned about the overall national security environment which he said was “very dynamic and evolving.”
Among the landscape, he noted the issue of the “recent emergence of T&T nationals interested in participating in conflict overseas,” a reference to recent reports of nine suspected nationals held in Turkey en route to Syria to join ISIS.
He was also asked about an article in ISIS’ Dabiq July publication featuring a T&T terrorist fighter Abu Sa’d al-Trinidadi. The latter, as well as FTFs from other countries, called on sympathisers to launch home turf attacks on Christians.
Dillon said there had not yet been confirmation on the nine detained in Turkey but noted he had asked the Foreign Affairs Minister to follow up the matter through diplomatic channels in Turkey to ascertain if those detained were nationals. Other sources said they were still in Turkey.
He said Government was also probing the Dabiq article, adding efforts will be made to clear up all of the issues and confirm the accuracy and authenticity (of the article).
He said Government was looking into the instances of nationals who have gone to ISIS, as well as those who intended to go, and resources were being put into intelligence- gathering capacity to deal with this speedily.
While saying profiles were being built on those who may have gone to join ISIS, he declined to answer whether a local network was behind the situation.
He conceded the various developments could damage T&T’s reputation, especially if the nine held in Turkey and those in the article were indeed T&T nationals. However, he said the necessary action would be taken to show T&T did not stand for its nationals doing what was described in the Dabiq article, for instance.
But Dillon admitted it was not easy to say if people were going to Syria to access ISIS, since there were no direct flights there and they may be taking certain routes and heading for different locations.
He noted statements by the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday on how Government proposed to deal with returning foreign fighters (FTFs)
Protest outside embassy
Islamic Front leader Umar Abdullah yesterday staged a brief demonstration in front of the Venezuelan Embassy with several relatives of the five T&T nationals detained in Venezuela since March 2014.
A female member of the group protested the reports of nine suspected T&T nationals held in Turkey en route to ISIS. They questioned proof of that and dismissed Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s statements “due process” would be used in matters on returning foreign terrorist fighters.
Abdullah said they were still awaiting word from Government on the detained men who were held in 2014 on terrorism charges which were recently changed to intent to commit espionage.