Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Don't get complacent because of low terrorist threat - Holness

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2017 | 3:08 AMJason Cross
One of the two Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard (JDF) patrol ships which was commissioned on Wednesday, at the base in Port Royal,

Although direct terrorist threats in the Caribbean is low at this time, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is also the country's defence minister, is reminding Jamaicans that the country cannot become complacent in its efforts to effectively patrol its territorial waters.

He delivered this message at Tuesday's special commissioning of two Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard patrol ships, Her Majesty Jamaica Ship (HMJS) Cornwall and Her Majesty Jamaica Ship (HMJS) Middlesex, at the Coast Guard base in Port Royal.

Holness stressed that huge tourism, boating and commercial activities in the Caribbean, continued to increase the possibilities of terrorism unfolding in the region.

"Although we are fortunate that there may still be very little direct terrorist threats to the Caribbean, we cannot be complacent. We remain cognisant that there are sufficient targets of opportunities that could be explored by terrorists with devastating effects. The large tourism industry and commercial shipping activity in the Caribbean heightens susceptibility to a terrorist attack in this area," Holness said.

The Prime Minister pointed to the fact that small arms and ammunition trafficking was more prevalent in some countries than others. He said that Jamaica needs to place itself in a position to effectively monitor the domain and being able to detect all threats even before they enter Jamaican waters.

"The trafficking in small arms and ammunition through the region is more prevalent among some states than others. Guns are weapons of choice for crimes in Jamaica, yet none are manufactured here, therefore, effective monitoring of the maritime domain must be in place. Ideally, detection must happen even before there is a threat to our waters.

"The employment of these vessels coupled with the intervention of new technology will achieve good results. The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard is committed to tackling these threats. The acquisition of these vessels will ensure that they are not only to deter but to interdict any activity occurring in the maritime domain," he said.

Holness also announced that the arrival of a maritime surveillance aircraft, is drawing near, saying it will greatly enhance the island's capabilities of better monitoring any activity as required in the area.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com