United States' Terrorism Report positive on T&T's fight against terrorism; notes over 70 nationals have joined ISIS

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - 20:00

The United States is pointing to several positive steps taken by this country to combat the threat of terrorism as it notes that over 70 nationals are believed to have joined terrorist organisation, ISIS.

The US is, however, still concerned about the stage of this country's efforts to combat the financing of terrorism.

Trinidad and Tobago is including in the "Country Reports on Terrorism 2015" released today by the US Department of State.

It points to deficiences in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005 and efforts by Attorney General Faris Al Rawi to make legislative changes.

But it also notes that there is "limited interagency cooperation and coordination, and limited information-sharing due to allegations of corruption amongst different agencies".

The following is the part of the State Department's report relating to Trinidad and Tobago:

"Overview: Trinidad and Tobago took steps to address the challenge of foreign terrorist fighters by forming a National Counterterrorism Working Group, chaired by the Trinidad and Tobago Chief of Defense Staff. 

The working group drafted a strategy to take into account international and domestic commitments in countering terrorism and the specific nature of the terrorist threat to Trinidad and Tobago, identifying the priorities, principles, and key assumptions.

Elections on September 7 resulted in a new Prime Minister and a new government that appears to be focused on national security, particularly in the areas of crime and counterterrorism.

The government continued to cooperate with the United States on security matters, including participation in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program that addresses counterterrorism training for police, and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative program that focuses on training and the professionalization of the police and military forces in order to ensure citizen security.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Trinidad and Tobago is reviewing its legislation to address foreign terrorist fighters and their possible return, an area not addressed in the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Act. 

The Counterterrorism Working Group, which includes both defense force and law enforcement officials, is still in its initial stages. Its proposed counterterrorism strategy was not approved by the country’s Cabinet in 2015, and police or military units that have a counterterrorism mission had not been identified.

Trinidad and Tobago, with the assistance of certain police units and government sections, continued to identify and monitor persons that raise terrorism concerns and maintained a list of nationals who traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

More than 70 nationals of Trinidad and Tobago are believed be fighting with ISIL in Syria. There was limited interagency cooperation and coordination, and limited information-sharing due to allegations of corruption amongst different agencies. Prosecutors are consulted on an ad hoc basis with regard to criminal cases.

Biographic and biometric screening capabilities are limited at certain ports of entry. Trinidad and Tobago collects advance passenger information and disseminates this information to other countries accordingly.

The defense force is responsible for the security of the coastline spanning the two islands and assists law enforcement in combating transnational crime. Both the defense and police forces are limited in human and material resources to meet strategic security challenges.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. 

The United States is concerned about serious deficiencies in Trinidad and Tobago’s anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework highlighted in its fourth round mutual evaluation. As a result of the evaluation, the Attorney General is looking to correct Trinidad and Tobago’s legislative deficiencies.

Trinidad and Tobago’s AML/CFT regime is not able to quantify the extent to which fraud and public corruption contribute to money laundering. 

The country requires the collection of Know Your Customer-data for banks and wire transfers, and requires various entities to report suspicious transactions. However, non-profit organizations are not obligated to file suspicious transaction reports.

STRs reviewed by the Trinidad and Tobago Financial Intelligence Unit and Customs and Excise Division officials confirm that trade-based money laundering occurs, though no indications tied these activities directly to terrorism financing.

In December 2015, the Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General, under the country’s 2005 Anti-Terrorism Act, froze the assets of Trinbagonian national Kareem Ibrahim. 

In 2011, Ibrahim was convicted in a United States federal court of conspiring to commit a terrorist attack at the John F. Kennedy Airport. This was the first time that Trinidad and Tobago invoked any portion of its 2005 Anti-Terrorism Act.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

International and Regional Cooperation: In November 2015, the Prime Minister attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where he and other leaders addressed terrorism and security issues and the growing concern over ISIL."

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