CARICOM to clam­p­down on re­turn­ing ISIS fight­ers

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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.”

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