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Wednesday 22 May 2019
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Charles: Govt ignored us on terrorists

WE told you so, but we were ignored, said Naparima MP Rodney Charles in a statement yesterday accusing Government of turning a deaf ear to warnings of purported threats posed by Islamic State fighters returning to TT. After this Carnival’s terrorism scare, Charles said the Opposition had warned Government of such a terrorism threat at least seven times.

“We advised them that Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, told their Federal Parliament that security forces were closely monitoring their 60 returnees. Our Minister of National Security by contrast has not been even able to tell us the number of returning TT terrorists.” Charles recalled telling Government of the strategies used by the Danes, the Swedes, Dutch and Australians to deal with returning terrorists.

“Our advice, as is customary, was totally ignored even scornfully dismissed by this clueless administration that cannot even recognise when it is being helped. Had they listened and utilized the resources of their super expensive, $500 million spy agency, the SSA (Strategic Services Agency), we would pro-actively be miles ahead in our war on terror.” He accused the Government of an “ostrich-like approach” of hoping the Islamic State threat would go away. Charles said former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Juan S. Gonzalez, in a February 2017 New York Times article, urged TT to address the threat of returning ISIS fighters. He said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar twice urged anti-terrorism legislation after last year’s lapsed legislation, quoting her as saying, “We face a serious threat in this country and I do not believe enough attention is being given to returning people from ISIS. “The Opposition first drew the matter of Trinidad’s involvement in global terrorism during the 2016 Budget debate. Dr Rowley’s standard response was that we were giving TT a bad name when we raise it in Parliament.” Charles said last October he had said TT families were being held in the Tal Kayf camp in Iraq. “If this Government was a little more humble and listened to its citizens and other interest groups then we would be much better off as a country.”

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