T&T dismisses terrorist label by US network MSNBC

Monday, January 30, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Trinidad and Tobago Monday joined its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state, the Bahamas, in dismissing a report on the American television network, MSNBC, that the terrorist group, ISIS, has members in the two CARICOM countries.
In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister noted that Trinidad and Tobago and the United States have a historic, enduring and multifaceted bilateral relationship built around significant cultural, economic and national securities interests and ties.
“In fact, the United States is the home to a number of vibrant Trinidadian and Tobagonian communities reflecting the bond of friendship between our two nations.”
Reporting on the decision by United States President Donald Trump to sign an executive order banning citizens from seven countries, namely,  Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, an MSNBC contributor, Malcolm Nance, described as an expert in security and terrorism, indicated that the United States “have not banned terrorists from Brazil.
“ISIS has dozens of members from Brazil or Trinidad or The Bahamas who have more terrorists members than any of those other countries,” he added.
But Port of Spain said that “Nance’s broad and simplistic statement is not supported by fact and ignores the robust and substantial national security cooperative partnership between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States”.
It noted for example that in October of 2016, Trinidad and Tobago had the honour of hosting the 12th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas that brought together the defense leaders of nearly all nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the US Defense Secretary.
The government said last year, Trinidad and Tobago became the first CARICOM nation to sign along with the United States the Customs Mutual Administrative Agreement (CMAA), further expanding our two nations’ bilateral security relationship.
“Furthermore, in September of 2016, the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the United States Southern Command participated in Joint Combined Exchange Training to bolster our mutual capabilities as partners to conduct security operations.
“Trinidad and Tobago’s unshakable commitment to combatting terrorism and religious extremism, in all its forms, cannot be called into question and we will continue to work with our partners in the international community, particularly the United States, our major trading partner, until this threat to world order and security is addressed.
“It is against this background that Trinidad and Tobago was represented by me, as prime minister, in participating in the high level regional security conference of CARICOM and the US which took place in Washington DC in May 2016,” the statement said.
The government said it “will continue to focus on strengthening its longstanding partnership with the United States, while fostering a dialogue which promotes increased economic, cultural and national security collaboration for the benefit of both our nations”.
In dismissing the claim the Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said that he had held discussions with Prime Minister Perry Christie, the Attorney general as well as the leadership of the Royal Bahamas Police Force “all of whom are responsible for the country’s national security and they have no knowledge of any such terrorists or group of terrorists or any individual terrorist that is related to ISIS or any other terrorist organisation in The Bahamas”.
Mitchell has described the MSNBC report as “rubbish” adding that the Bahamas mission in the United States “has been asked to reach out to US counterparts, to MSNBC and the Mr Nance himself to find out what the source of the allegation is. The Mission has been asked to ask for a retraction forthwith”.


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