Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Terrorism threat real - CARICOM official warns regional gov'ts to be watchful

Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Rudyard Spencer (left), state minister for national security, shares a joke with Earl Harris, assistant director of strategic services for CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, at the 19th annual staging of the CARICOM Chiefs of Immigration and Comptrollers of Customs, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

Islamic terrorist group ISIS is virtually dismantled, but a warning has been sounded for Caribbean nations to be on the lookout for members of that and other radical organisations moving in to regroup or expand.

The warning came from Earl Harris, assistant director for the CARICOM Implementation Agency For Crime and Security, who spoke to The Gleaner at the opening ceremony of the 19th annual Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chiefs of Immigration and Comptrollers of Customs Seminar at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.

"The enemy is real. We are seeing in the region a lot of irregular migration, especially in Trinidad and Tobago, of foreign terrorist fighters from the Middle East.

"When you do the analysis, you will see that it is increasing exponentially. A lot of the work we do is to engage member states in forums such as these to learn what their needs are and the skill deficiencies and gaps.

"Terrorism is a sleeping threat. You have to be constantly aware of it. Even though the war has been won against ISIS in the Middle East, there are sleeper cells in the region. There are persons attempting to enter the region through the citizenship by investment programme, and they also enter by being smuggled through porous borders," Harris said.

 

INTEGRATED TRAINING

 

He reported that integrated training of immigration and customs officials within CARICOM had been helping to clamp down on transnational criminal activities in the region.

"We recently concluded, in all 15-member states, training of border security officials, targeting documents and container examinations. The detection rate is supposed to go up.

"We are partnering with the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime. Late last year in Trinidad and Tobago, we discovered US$2 million (J$250m) in a wooden skip (container), and about a week later, there was a big drug find. Apparently, the money was coming in to pay for drugs going out," Harris disclosed.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com