CARICOM to clampdown on returning ISIS fighters
A coordinated Caribbean Community (CARI COM) clampdown on returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) – including targeting their assets – is being prepared for approval at next month’s heads of government meeting in Grenada.
In the next three weeks, CARICOM l eaders will move to finalise plans for a CARICOM arrest warrant for FTFs and sharing of recovered assets, as well as regional anti- terrorism legislation. The latter will be based on T&T’s proposed anti- terrorism legislation, the Trinidad Guardian reported.
“The question for the region (on terrorism) isn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’,” Trinidad’s National Security Minister Edmund Dillon warned.
CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) executive director Francis Forbes said the agency and the United States are tracking “several hundred” people from the Caribbean and South American who’ve gone to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terror network.
Forbes said 200- plus CARICOM nationals have travelled to Isis territories – fighters and families – and 130 are being tracked as alleged FTFs.
Several returning FTFs are being actively monitored by regional law enforcement agencies, he added.
Dillon said main security concerns for the region posed by terrorism include the FTF phenomena – persons travelling from this region to regions of conflict, and their subsequent return.
Also at issue is the increasing influence of radical clerics and radicalised ISIS sympathisers in CARICOM states, the growing volume/ accessibility of terrorist group propaganda online and via peer- to- peer networks; and the potential exploitation of the banking system to fund terrorist networks.
Forbes noted calls had been made by Caribbe- an-born FTFs for home-turf attacks. He said returning FTFs hold battlefield expertise and the potential for “lone wolf” attack and can spread radicalisation. He also noted the “push” such influence can have on transnational crime.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Roque, who said no country was immune to terrorism, added the July summit will discuss the draft plan for the region concerning a CARICOM arrest warrant and sharing of recovered assets of FTFs.
“Our region can’t afford complacency – one act of terrorism in one state will resonate and have implications across the region,” La Roque added.
Dillon said, “CARICOM countries must seek to criminalise and penalise acts of terrorism by nationals and non-nationals in a coordinated manner and regional anti- terrorism legislation must be equally stringent and consistent.
“As such, t he CAR- ICOM Model Anti-Terrorism Bill and the proposed Agreement on the Return (of FTFs) and/or sharing of recovered assets are important tools which the region should seek to finalise as a matter of urgency. These are proposed to be opened for signature at CARICOM leaders’ upcoming meeting.”