PORT OF SPAIN –– Government has denounced “loose figures” and claims being made in articles — and from the opposition — that “400” nationals are involved in terrorist activities overseas.
“There’s absolutely no correlation between that figure  and what our official tracking figures are and what we’re getting working along with international agencies,” Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said yesterday.
Speaking during the post-Cabinet press briefing, Young said government had seen an article last weekend and “one of the things we’re finding now is loose figures are being thrown out. For example there was a very loose figure thrown out by a member of the opposition –– ‘400 fighters’ and ‘400 citizens’ gone abroad.
“Of course this then gets repeated in a news reel and news cycle. But we continue to debunk it. We are concerned as a Government [at the number],we’re not burying our heads in the sand. It’s something constantly on our monitor and is being dealt with on a daily basis.”
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said recently that 130 nationals were involved in terrorist activities overseas — 72 fighters and about 58 family members.
Last year April, opposition MP Roodal Moonilal had claimed 400 people were radicalised in T&T and men, women and children had gone to join the ISIS terror network.
Yesterday, Young said he wasn’t aware of any invitation by the BBC to speak on discussions on the issue. Nor could he comment on claims by professor Andy Knight about prison inmates being radicalised by Imams.
“However, we’re very aware of the prevailing circumstances we’re living in, and we’re working with local intelligence and law enforcement agencies, as well as similar agencies in the US, UK and the French to monitor the situation,” Young said.
“It’s a global phenomenon, it’s not limited to T&T and the region –– it’s happening all over the world, including parts of Europe. We’re very aware of it and it’s high on our radar.”
Meanwhile, Young said government’s recent statement on the conversation between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was as much as could be said “at this stage.”
He said statements from T&T and the White House mirrored each other on the conversation focussing on strengthening relations on trade, security and other areas.
“Government continues to monitor the situation, we’re personally engaged with various parts of the US government, conversations are flowing and communication lines are very, very open. We may find in the coming time, there’ll be a continuation of those conversations and interactions,” Young added.
He said if there is to be a visit by Rowley to Trump, “we’ll all be informed”.