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Advisories Issued As T&T Police Uncover Plot to Disrupt Carnival
PRIME MINISTER DR KEITH ROWLEY
A total of 13 people have now been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to disrupt Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.
And Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has insisted that the threat was “no joke” and there are still serious security concerns about the security of the state.
Last Thursday, police reported that they had uncovered and thwarted the threat, with four men being arrested that day. Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said yesterday that in addition to detaining several more suspects – none of whom has yet been released – more raids were conducted.
At a media briefing following a Cabinet retreat yesterday, Prime Minister Rowley said the country still had to stay on the alert.
“As chairman of the National Security Council, we did have and we still do have very serious concerns about the safety and security of the state, and when the government sees it necessary to indicate that we are dealing with credible threats I just hope that citizens take that phrase very seriously,” he said.
Some Trinidad and Tobago nationals have gone overseas to train with and fight with terror group, ISIS, and Rowley said “some of the training poses a threat to us” .
“We would be putting our heads in the sand if we do not acknowledge and accept that we as a people are part of the scourge of internationally unacceptable developments,” he said. “This moreso in recent times when some of our citizens have taken positions that are alien to us as a people and are detrimental to the well-being of our nation if their teachings and actions are allowed to go unobserved or unchecked.”
Asked if information showed there were further threats, the Prime Minister emphasized: “We must understand there are citizens in T&T who engaged themselves in and subscribe to ideologies and activities, which, if taken to their logical conclusion, can cause detriment to the people of T&T. We’d be burying our heads in the sand if we don’t accept that.”
Rowley also responded to claims from some of the Muslim community after mosques were searched in the police investigations, that the government was engaged in ethnic and religious persecution.
“That holds no water with respect to the security services responding to criminal conduct on the part of any and every person in TT. There is no policy, no programme to persecute any group, ethnic or otherwise in TT,” he insisted.
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ACTING ASP, MICHAEL JACKMAN, REVEALED THE PLOT AT A PRESS CONFERENCE
Police in Trinidad and Tobago have arrested four men in connection with a plot to disrupt Carnival celebrations next week, and while they have not revealed the nature of the plan, advisories issued by two foreign governments suggest it was terror related.
At an urgent media briefing yesterday, Assistant Superintendent Michael Jackman said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) had “unearthed credible information” of a threat to disrupt the twin-island republic’s highly anticipated Carnival activities.
“The information received is going through intelligence gathering,” he said.
Jackman said several suspects were detained and were being interviewed, but police were also pursuing other leads.
“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service gives the assurance to residents and visitors alike that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service supported by the partner agency, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, will be providing the necessary security and safety arrangements for Carnival 2018 to be effectively enjoyed by all,” he sought to assure.
“The public, as usual, should remain vigilant, alert of their surroundings and if they should see anything that appears suspicious they should do as they have done in the past and report it to members of the TTPS,” Jackman added.
The senior lawman declined to release the identities of the detained men or say whether the plan was linked to terrorism. But in a message to British citizens in Trinidad and Tobago on the heels of the police discovery, the UK Foreign Office advised of an increased threat of terrorism, saying “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Trinidad and Tobago”.
“The Trinidad and Tobago authorities have arrested some individuals who planned to carry out attacks against Carnival on 12 and 13 February, 2018. An attack is still possible. The Trinidad and Tobago government is increasing security measures for the Carnival. You should remain vigilant and avoid crowded places and large gatherings,” it advised yesterday.
The Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago has also warned its citizens there to watch out for terrorist attacks, despite the arrests by police.
“An attack still cannot be ruled out. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has increased security measures around Carnival events. If you are attending or plan to attend Carnival, exercise extreme caution,” it said, adding that attacks in Trinidad could “occur at any time”.
Meantime, the United States Embassy has advised its government personnel to exercise additional caution and increased situational awareness if they intend to participate in Carnival events.