National Security Ministry, US Government, local Muslims form round-table to address terrorism

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 13:45

The Ministry of National Security has started a round-table discussion with local Muslim organisations, with the involvement of the United States Government, to address issues of terrorism.

The representatives met for the first time today, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of National Security.

The following is the statement the Ministry issued today.

"Following several months of discussions with leaders of the Muslim community, the Minister of National Security, Major General (Ret’d) the Honourable Edmund Dillon has formally established a round table group of leaders representing most of the Islamic organizations in Trinidad and Tobago. This initiative also involves the government of the United States of America. This latest collaboration will assist the government of Trinidad and Tobago to chart a way forward, to treat with issues pertaining to terrorism and terrorist activities in a cooperative and collaborative manner.

The first meeting in a series of engagements was held today (Friday 10th February, 2017) at the Ministry of National Security, Port of Spain.

At the meeting, Minister Dillon gave the assurance that the Government remains committed to working with the Muslim Communities. He commended the leaders present for their willingness to collaborate with Government in countering the threat of terrorism.

The Minister underscored the importance of the positive voices in treating with crime and criminality. He urged the leaders present to encourage their organizations to speak with a united positive voice whilst taking action to root out and displace the criminal elements. He reiterated that persons leaving Trinidad to enter areas of conflict are a minority and underscored that the vast majority of the local Muslim population are law-abiding citizens. He reiterated that this country prides itself with the harmonious existence of all its citizens.

Minister Dillon indicated that the Government is addressing its anti-terrorism agenda utilizing a two-pronged approach of legislative reform and operational mechanisms. He stressed the need for heightened awareness among members of the Muslim Community, as with all communities, and urged persons to share information if they suspect nefarious activities in their community. The Minister sought to challenge the leaders to assist in the identification of potential terrorist recruiters and those who choose to enter into areas affected by conflict.

Mr. Hafeez Khan from the National Islamic Counselling Services, who led the delegation of Muslim organizations expressed his concerns about the negative image being conveyed in the local and international domains about Trinidad and Tobago and the Muslim Community.  He further noted that in addressing this perception the Muslim Community is committed as a collective body to self-regulation as well as working with the Government in support of countering the threat of terrorism including the exchange of critical information.

Officials of the United States of America Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago were also present at today’s meeting commended and assured both the Government and the Muslim leaders that the United States Government is a part of this approach to counter terrorism and the associated crimes.  An undertaking was also given by the US Delegation to provide reliable research data to the Ministry including identifying the possible causes that attract locals to conflict zones abroad. 

Today’s meeting was held to bolster awareness among the groups in attendance and present an overview of the cooperative agenda. Subsequent meetings will focus on building the relationship between the Government and Muslim Communities.

Organizations represented at today’s roundtable discussion included: the National Islamic Counselling Services; Islamic Resource Society; National Muslim Women’s Organization of Trinidad and Tobago; the Anjuman Sunnat-Ul-Jamaat (ASJA) and the Trinidad Muslim League. 

Other Faith Based Organizations will be included in future roundtable discussions."