Archive for August, 2016

Terror Watch T&T

Posted: August 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

Terrorism needs to be understood on 2 levels, international and local. The US Department of Defense defines it as “the unlawful use of violence or threat of violence to instill fear and coerce governments or societies.” Locally by definition we have terrorism running rampant in the form of Gang Terrorism. We also have the more conventional terrorism in terms of what we see in media; however Trinidad and Tobago better serves as a support services to the larger cells, mainly in the area of manpower recruiting and public relations. Trinidadians have been leaving to join the terrorist organization ISIS in groups both small and large, some for misplaced ideological beliefs, some from social displacement, and other for the promise of the spoils of war (wealth and women).

With drives these individuals may be cut and dry in most cases, but it doesn’t mean tackling the problem will be any less complex than with international standards of counter-terrorism operations. Tackling the problem from the roots requires as much socio-political intervention as cleansing a gang stronghold, but with the added difficulty of uncovering local undercover recruiters and facilitators. This challenge is compounded by the fact that at any given time and for any given reason someone once furnished with the adequate info can jump on a plane with little more than air fare and the clothes on their back, and become an ISIS fighter. Intelligence gathering and insertion of covert operatives in key areas of interests to not only detect but also to supplant extremists influences from communities are the tools to win the battle on this front, denying extremists their much desired human resource.

Terror Arrests_1457726465789_3188898_ver1.0_1280_720When taken into these terrorist organizations persons are indoctrinated into a cocoon of extremist violence, resembling the beliefs of a faith only in decorative fashion. They are trained, and some who survive return battle hardened with experience that one can only gain abroad and in a warzone. Those who are caught in transit/planning and then deported or return after training is where the real danger lies. Those who return unskilled pose a danger to in being willing to either join local criminal organizations or work in support of the terrorist organizations as becoming part of a domestic cell to recruit on their behalf. This bid to prove themselves creates an additional local gang resource. Even more troubling are those who return with skills in shooting, bombing, kidnapping, and sabotage. This leaves us to wonder what to do with those who are being sent back to us as well as those who are returning on their own alike.

A person is entitled to citizenship of most states worldwide through either Jus soli (‘right of the soil’) or Jus sanguinis (‘right of the blood’). Either way, a person cannot become stateless by being denied by their own state in our case. Those being sent back are our responsibility, and calling for them to be barred from entry breaches not only conventions of international law, but in all practicality leaves the deporting nation with little other choice but to send them back in most cases. This raises the question of what to do with terrorist accused when they return. Some have merely been sent back as suspected persons with terrorist interest, and have broken no laws, thus do not then fall under the remit of the state to prosecute. Given this however the state does have mechanism and laws by which these deportees can be monitored. The state in recent times has dropped the ball on these issues and in either a genuine effort to rectify, or a rash move to save face, applied provisions of the Terrorism Act to freeze assets of those said deportees. This is a case of political praise but operational shooting in the foot of those decision makers. By freezing banking assets they signal all involved that the person is being monitored and future operations by the potential terrorist now will be funded in cash and other means when needed. This not only severely limits the avenues for monitoring with evidence domestically, but also hampers international investigations as before the money transfers could have been tracked back as near as the source as possible in the cases of organizations like ISIS and other private sympathizers bankrolling recruiters.

1111Terrorist-School For those who return with specialized training, the risk is even greater. These are individuals who can not only recruit by selling their ‘heroism,’ but are capable of pre-training fighters to be shipped off and lend to the global problem in a quicker fashion. There is the sleeper cell type threat too that these persons with their knowledge and can one day be used on a whim or as part of a coordinated attack to wreak havoc on our country, especially where bombing and assassination are concerned. Then there is the all too present factor of these individuals working for gangs, providing services for operations as well as training which if not curtailed could see gang dominance brought to a whole other level. Dealing with this set is more clear cut but more deadly. They need to be monitored through intelligence gathering, but National Security through its law enforcement function would need to train (beforehand) and deploy  specialized units to deal with these specific threats, dangers, and tactics. In terms of the law, it is long overdue to be expanded to levy heavier punishments and more wide reaching authority in detaining accused terrorist with the adequate evidence.

We face a situation that is quickly becoming out of hand and can only get worse if left to its natural devices. The stage now is to depend on ad hoc intelligence gathering, and slightly more skilled law enforcement to do a job that is out of their scope of expertise in the grand scheme of things. Trinidad and Tobago is faced now with the choice of moving towards a Homeland Security System of operations to defend ourselves and lend to the global war on terror, or become a regional base for pro-terrorist support.

Paul-Daniel Nahous BSc, CHS-I, ATO
Certified Anti-Terrorism Officer
Combat Specialist