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Trinidad National Security Minister: ISIS Terrorism Could Be Exported To The Caribbean Region As Well

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T&T National Security Minister Edmund Dillon

PORT OF SPAIN — The mass shooting in Orlando which left some 49 dead, is not only a threat to the United States but the larger Caribbean as well, according to Trinidad’s national security minister.

Fully 23 of the 49 people slaughtered by a terrorist at a gay bar in central Florida were from the island of Puerto Rico. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla declared an official day of mourning on Friday and at least 300 people gathered in the capital of San Juan to honor those who were killed. Hundreds more gathered in Ponce.

“Whether classified as a crime of hate or terrorism it has caused serious threat in the United States and for us in the Caribbean and in fact the wider world, Trinidad’s National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said. “This act, once again, demonstrates the change in security risks faced by law enforcement and other practitioners in the field of security as individuals seek to make their point by waging war against their fellow citizens.”

Dillon made the remarks while speaking at the National Security in the Caribbean Conference at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port-of-Spain on Tuesday.

It was held in partnership with the National Security Ministry and the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC).

Making reference to Venezuela’s worsening economic crisis Dillon said that presented “grave implications” for T&T and also the wider Caribbean.

But the matter, he added, must be handled diplomatically.

He said combating crime required increased vigilance among security forces, adding that a keen eye must also be kept on those intent on terrorising society.

Saying there were new threats emerging in the Caribbean, which included it being fertile ground to recruit ISIS members, the minister added that could also have a negative effect on T&T as heinous acts must be condemned in the strongest possible way.

Dillon said there was an alarming rate of crime and violence in many Caribbean countries but they must come together even more to eradicate criminals and come up with initiatives.

“Decision-makers have the collective responsibility to ensure the appropriate policies are made available to counter those involve in counter transnational crime.

“Crime and criminality belong to all of us. We all have a role to play,” Dillon urged.

He said while growing up in Point Fortin there was always the movement of people from Venezuela through Point Fortin but now the trade commodity has changed to that of “a basket of illegal goods… guns, drugs, trafficking in people… which continue to threaten the security environment.”

Close relations between security forces and members of the community must also be maintained so as to enhance intelligence-gathering capabilities, Dillon added.

Defence force always part of security

Speaking to members of the media after the opening ceremony Dillon said the security of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley continued to be of paramount importance by “elements of national security.”

Special Branch officers detailed to guard Rowley had complained of being overworked with little time to rest or for members of their families.

Last Friday, Rowley arrived at Parliament under the guard of Defence Force officers.

Pressed further whether the PM’s detail had been officially replaced by soldiers Dillon said:

“Defence Force personnel have always been part of the national security element that treats with the Prime Minister and the President security and they continue so to do. Members of the Special Branch… members of the Police Service continue to play a role in the Prime Minister’s security.”

On recommendations that Special Branch should be considered a separate unit apart from that of the Police Service, Dillon said the security environment was always dynamic.

“We continue to assess the threat on the Prime Minister and on the President and throughout T&T and if there is a reason to change then we would do so,” Dillon said.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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