Nine Trinidad nationals to be deported from Turkey after trying to join ISIS
PORT OF SPAIN - Nine Trinidad and Tobago nationals were expected to be deported from Turkey late Monday for allegedly trying to travel to Syria to join the terror group, Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said that the men, like any other deportees, will be kept under strict surveillance. He added that evidence was currently being gathered to determine what possible charges they may face.
He said these could range from facing a jail term, heavy sanctions and forfeiture of assets, the Trinidad Guardian reported.
“At the end of the day anybody in an alleged circumstance of terrorism has to face the courts. There is due process and it must be done fairly but at the same time you have to take an intelligence-based approach to this,” Al-Rawi said in an interview on Monday.
According to the Daily Sabah, the men were detained by Turkish officials in Adana, while travelling in a truck on July 27.
The truck was stopped by police acting on a tip-off that “foreigners” were said to be en route to join the terrorist organisation active in Syria and Iraq.
Adana is among the cities near the Syrian border where foreign fighters attempt to illegally cross to join ISIS.
A report from another Syrian newspaper on Monday said immigrations officials were unable to say when the Trinidad and Tobago nationals would be deported as there was no direct flight to Piarco Airport in Trinidad.
It said the men would have to go through London or Amsterdam but neither of these cities was willing to accommodate the deportation.
The Turkish authorities were liaising with national security officials in Trinidad in an effort to resolve the matter. Some of the Trinidadians reportedly left Trinidad, flew to Caracas, then landed in Amsterdam where they met their contact person.
Al-Rawi said on Monday that ISIS was listed in the local courts as an internationally recognised terror group. Hence, if citizens were found outside of Trinidad and Tobago attempting to engage with the group, the local law automatically would take effect.
And amid growing concerns from members of the public that more and more Trinidadians who were bent on taking up ISIS’s cause were being shipped back to the country, Al-Rawi said intelligence agencies were keeping a close watch on them.
He said various international agencies have been “watching T&T” and monitoring its effectiveness by requesting proof that this country’s laws were actually being used.
On concerns that the deportees may form their own gangs, the attorney general said the National Security Council met on Sunday and efforts were being made to “tighten up” the response to such issues.
He said upon landing at Piarco Airport, all deportees were met by law enforcement agencies following which an entire debriefing process took place.
“If there is anything untoward, the steps are taken right then and there by the agencies tasked with the responsibilities including the police and I can assure that the persons who are deported are kept under suitable surveillance as the case may dictate,” Al-Rawi added.
Dr Nasser Mustapha, executive member and former president of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML), said he was concerned that Trinidad and Tobago nationals were still joining ISIS.
He said he thought by now they would have had enough sense to refrain from doing so.
“They should be aware by now that what ISIS is doing is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam. All forms of violence and extremism are against the teachings of Islam. “When we see the things they are doing and loss of innocent lives and the instability they are causing I am surprised that people still want to go there,” Mustapha said.