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Thursday 16 August 2018
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Opposition concerned by AG’s contradiction


THE Opposition is satisfied with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s affirmation in Parliament on Friday that there are ISIS cells operating in Trinidad, and concerned that Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has appeared to contradict those statements.

“The Prime Minister is the head of the National Security Council so he is fully aware of what is happening.

The AG, I believe, is also a member. So, it is surprising that we are seeing this contradiction between two senior members of government,” Opposition Chief Whip David Lee told Newsday yesterday.

The country isn’t feeling safe, he said, and now there are these unknowns. The government needs to come clean and clarify the situation, he added.

On Friday, during the Prime Minister’s Question and Answer session in the House of Representatives, Opposition MP Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie asked Rowley, “Is there anything in T&T that can be considered an ISIS cell or an ISIS satellite?”

After a fairly circumlocutory preamble where Rowley attempted to contextualise the Islamic extremist group’s influence around the world, the PM ended his response with, “It is an integral part of our national security and the answer to the question is yes.”

Lee said the Opposition had been attempting “for months” to engage the government in discussions about how best to deal with any terrorist threat stemming from the possible existence of ISIS cells in Trinidad, especially from nationals who had returned after allegedly fighting with the group in Syria and Iraq.

“Every time we tried to raise it in the Parliament we were called unpatriotic, especially by the AG, and by (Minister in the Office of the PM) Stuart Young. We are heartened that now that when the question was asked, the PM was able to give an affirmative answer, (recorded) on the Hansard and the Parliament Channel,” Lee said.

Lee asked, if the PM, then, is concerned that these ISIS cells exist in TT, is he also to be considered unpatriotic.

He added that he does not believe the government has a system in place to deal with these cells.

Lee also questioned the detention of 13 suspects, all Muslims, held by the police on the Thursday before Carnival, allegedly in relation to an alleged plot to disrupt the festivities, almost all of whom have now been released.


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