Rant of the Day (by Farid Scoon, Attorney of Law in Trinidad)
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Rant of the Day (by Farid Scoon, Attorney of Law in Trinidad)

Editors choice
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Rant of the Day (by Farid Scoon, Attorney of Law in Trinidad)
August 2, 2016

Government continues to be soft on ISIS co-conspirators in Trinidad and Tobago and I would like to know why?

A Turkish newspaper reports that 9 citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are being deported from that country because they were allegedly found attempting to cross into ISIS held territory in Syria and the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says local law enforcement authorities “are in the process of confirming with certainty from their foreign counterparts what the actual state of affairs really is”.

Al-Rawi made the comment in an interview with TV6 News yesterday as he revealed the State now has 74 applications before the High Court to have individuals and organisations identified on a United Nations Security Council Sanctions List designated as “terrorist entities” in Trinidad and Tobago. And by the way, WOW, we should be happy the State has already been successful in its application to have the group called ISIS (also known as ISIL or Da’esh) designated as a terrorist organisation by the High Court in Trinidad and Tobago.

I say again the Government is soft on ISIS and I will like to know why. “The law enforcement authorities are in the process of confirming with certainty from their foreign counterparts what the actual state of affairs really is,” Al-Rawi said of the Daily Sabah report. He said, however, “Trinidad and Tobago has a very well-structured system in receipt of deportees” that involves interrogation at the point of entry they return to.
‘Fighters under surveillance’

Al-Rawi was asked if anything can be done to prevent T&T nationals from leaving their homeland to join groups such as ISIS. Is it really enough to state that “[Y]ou don’t know that somebody is going off to do something until they do it. I mean you can’t under our laws just speculate widely without evidence. If there is evidence to support something then obviously you can deal with it but you have to, of course, I mean you may suspect somebody is going to commit murder but if they get to the point of attempted murder and murder that’s where the law applies in certain circumstances unless you have the evidence to deal with the conspiracy to commit murder,” as Al-Rawi said to the news media yesterday.

That’s it! You want to monitor Muslims who are about their legitimate religious affairs going to Hajj and Umrah (the non-compulsory visit to Mecca), but you have no way of monitoring persons or multiplicity of persons who are visiting Turkey? Nobody’s on alert! not travel agents, not the check in agents, not any protocol with airlines that serve Turkey or with Turkish intelligence to be on the look out for more of the more than 89 terrorist fighters (by your own very conservative estimation) that have joined Isis. No monitoring of the banks who are supplying travel credit cards for use in Syria? Are we really expected to believe you that “…suspected local foreign terrorist fighters are under surveillance by local law enforcement…”

Is that it? Let me quote Section 9 in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2005.

  • 9. (1) Any person who knowingly— (a) supports; or (b) solicits support for, the commission of a terrorist act, commits an offence and shall, on conviction on indictment, be liable to imprisonment for twenty years.
  • (2) For the purposes of subsection (1) “support” includes but is not limited to— (a) an offer to provide or the provision of expertise or a skill; (b) an offer to provide or the provision of falsified or forged documents; and (c) entering or remaining in any country, for the purpose of committing or facilitating a terrorist act.

You mean you can’t try to convict under this Section? The State tried Abu Bakr for sedition for telling Muslims he’s vexed that they are not paying their zakat. Don’t you think that the State can try some persons under for entering or remaining in Turkey for the purpose of committing or facilitating a terrorist act, two wit to join ISIS? You can’t get Turkish intelligence to assist? You can’t get their plane tickets, their telephone calls, their bank receipts? You mean you can’t put a case together?
OK, you can’t convict, but you can seriously investigate.

Look at the powers that Section 24 of the Act confers on the State! An inspector of police or higher with the consent of the DPP may apply ex parte to a judge in chambers for an order to the gather information from named persons. If the judge thinks that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence under this Act has been committed and that:

  • (i) information concerning the offence; or
  • (ii) information that may reveal the whereabouts of a person suspected by the police officer of having committed the offence, is likely to be obtained as a result of the Order, the Judge may order the examination on oath of the person named in the order;
  • (c) order the person to attend at a time and place fixed by the judge, for the purpose of being examined; and
  • (d) order the person to bring and produce any document or thing in his control or possession for the purpose of the examination. When these persons return from Syria you can’t do that?

Why are you bothered and interested about an old poor man, Kareem Ibrahiim, now dead, who was set up in an FBI sting operation, who had no belongings when he was a live and left none after his death, and at the same time so reticent about men committed to arms who are about to re-enter the country after allegedly pledging allegiance to the hypocrite caliph Al Baghdadi?

Don’t tell me that the best response to taking charge of a situation where 9 new Trini may have been caught eloping to Syria is that “We have draft legislation right now awaiting comment from the DPP, the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Immigration Officer specifically to deal with foreign terrorist fighters and their passage through and return back to Trinidad and Tobago.” We might be in a conflagration before that bill is to be laid before Parliament in September.

Why are you so soft on ISIS?

Farid Scoon
Attorney at Law

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