The Trinidad and Tobago police Sunday said they had detained another person in the alleged terrorist plot to disrupt the Carnival celebrations this weekend and dismissed as “incorrect” media reports that officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States were interrogating the suspects.
“That would not be correct. The FBI is not interrogating anyone in Trinidad and Tobago," Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams told a news conference, flanked by National Security Minister Retired Brigadier Edmund Dillon and the Chief of Defence Staff Commodore Hayden Pritchard.
Last week, the US-based television network CNN reported that US troops participated in the raids on mosques and capture four “high value targets”.
Williams, as he has done in the past, did not identify the eighth person detained since the security forces here last Thursday announced that they were conducting investigations into the alleged plot to disrupt the Carnival celebrations that end here on Tuesday with the usual street parade and jump-up.
“I wish to advise that eight persons have been detained to date. We continue though with our investigations all with the clear intentions of completing those investigations in the shortest period of time,” Williams said, adding “we have done all that we can do at this point in time to avert any threat to the Carnival celebrations.
“Persons can feel assured that Carnival 2018 you will have all the necessary safety and security support of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service,” he said encouraging “persons to take part in the Carnival celebrations, enjoy it, feel assured that the Trinidad and Tobago police will be out there in the numbers across all venues of the celebration”.
Williams would not be engaged in discussing whether or not those detained have been linked to terrorist groups such as ISIS in Syria.
The US Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 has named Trinidad and Tobago the country with the highest per capita rate of ISIS recruitment in the Western Hemisphere.
According to the report, more than 70 nationals are believed to be fighting with ISIS in Syria.
Williams urged citizens to help the authorities in ensuring the safety of the country, adding “be vigilant, be supportive, if you identify and see something share the information.
“So it is not only the security forces. It is the security forces and the law abiding citizens of Trinidad and Tobago working together to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago is a safe and secure place”.
Last Thursday, western countries warned their nationals about a possible terrorist threat here after the Trinidad and Tobago police confirmed they had detained several people who were planning to disrupt the annual Carnival celebrations.
The Canadian, United States and British authorities issued statements describing the events as a terrorist threat, warning nationals to be careful over the Carnival celebrations that ends with the traditional street jump up on Tuesday next week.
The British government said that “updated information and advice on the threat from terrorism in Trinidad and Tobago… terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Trinidad and Tobago.
“The Trinidad and Tobago authorities have arrested some individuals who planned to carry out attacks against Carnival on 12 and 13 February, 2018, an attack is still possible,” it said noting that the government here is “increasing security measures for the celebrations’.
London warned nationals to ‘remain vigilant” adding “attacks could be indiscriminate, including in crowded spaces and places visited by foreigners”.
Dillion told reporters that he is satisfied that the authorities here had been able to ‘disrupt the threat…but we will continue to be vigilant because one cannot be 100 per cent sure we have totally disrupted, so we will continue to be vigilant utilising the agencies of National Security again to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.
“We are dealing with criminal activities based on our intelligence,” Dillon said, adding that all agencies of National Security are fully mobilised together with the Strategic Services Agency.
“We have also reinforced security measures across our prisons …to ensure that no security breaches take place at those institutions,” he said noting that law enforcement authorities through “their pro-activity have led to several arrests” promising that the agencies would continue with the strategies.
“We will continue to do so. We will continue to use all agencies of the state …to ensure that we send a serious and strong message to those who are bent on committing criminal activities whether during Carnival or after or even before Carnival.
“The agencies of the state will not stand by idly and will do all within their power with respect to deterring, preventing, prosecuting and …incarcerated those who are bent on destroying our safety and security.
Dillon promised that the security agencies will continue to work “regardless of what is taking place around us…and working day and night to ensure the safety and security of citizens.
“We want to assure our public, we want to assure our visitors that ….we will create the type of security environment by our presence, our operations to ensure that they enjoy the kind of celebrations that we know people come to Trinidad to enjoy…over the next two days.”
Pritchard told reporters that the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is prepared and would continue to provide support to the other law enforcement agencies.
“For us Carnival is a heighten and focus period and that support has continued,’ he said, noting the “complicated factors” that have since arisen.
“I am personally confident that based on our planning that we are more than ready…for the circumstances we are aware of and even unforeseen circumstance,” he added.
The Carnival celebrations continue on Sunday night with the Calypso Monarch competition at the Queen’s Park Savannah in the heart of the capital.