Published On: Wed, Nov 25th, 2015

Ban returning ISIS terrorist nationals, says former Trinidad national security minister

gary_griffith11PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Former national security minister Gary Griffith has called on his successor Edmund Dillon to reject moves to allow the return of Trinidad and Tobago nationals, now with fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Griffith spoke on Monday after Islamic Front founder Umar Abdullah said he would be lobbying Dillon at a meeting next Tuesday to allow the return of Trinidad and Tobago-born foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and assist their reintegration.

Dillon said in the Senate last week that a discussion was taking place within the government on revisiting or changing the current situation of free, unrestricted/unhindered re-entry of local FTFs who have joined ISIS.

Abdullah said he intended to bring to the table with Dillon, an alternative solution as opposed to blocking FTFs. He said he would insist that the government must “understand the position of the united position of the Muslim people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Abdullah added: “We do have concerns that they (FTFs) may return with issues and we may have negative fall-out as a result but we are prepared to work, to change, educate them and put them through a reintegration programme.

Abdullah said he also planned to call for action at his meeting with Dillon on the five Trinidad and Tobago nationals currently detained in Venezuela on terrorism charges for the past 17 months.

However, the Abdullah-Dillon meeting came in for criticism from Griffith, who questioned the view the FTFs should be given a second chance.

“A second chance at what, trying to cause a plague by attempting to lure more naïve young men to become FTFs, or actually commit some terrorist act in our country based on training they received in Syria?” he said.

He said that both Dillon and Abdullah are incorrect if they believe that because someone is a Trinidad and Tobago citizen, they can automatically be authorised to re-enter, regardless if they are linked to terrorist activity.

Griffith noted that the United Nations Resolution on the ISIS issue, which was signed by Trinidad and Tobago last year, carried various obligations, including denying terrorists the ability to put down roots, build a base and establish safe havens, prevent easy access of travel for FTFs and prevent radicalisation for the recruiting of FTFs.

“Based on recent horrific acts of terrorism globally and revelations of dozens of Trinidad and Tobago FTFs it’s evident certain measures must be taken to prevent such acts locally. Everyone deserves a second chance, however, not terrorists,” he added.

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