Tuesday, November 17, 2015
It is time now that we focus on possible external threats to our peace and security at home. I am referring to the terrorist group that calls itself ISIS. (And I don't know, by the way, if anybody has ever noticed the oxymoron in that terrorist group calling itself ISIS: ISIS apparently stands for Islamic State in Syria. The word "Islam" comes from the Arabic "Salam" which means "peace". ISIS definitely cannot be defined as a 'peaceful' organization!) In any case, our newspapers have reported that there are some 89 Trinidadians over in Syria right now fighting with or for ISIS. The problem here is that every single citizen of Trinidad & Tobago has a constitutional right to re-enter the country at any time.
So? Under our laws any or all of these "fighters" can come home at any time that they choose. Of course, you don't have to have a degree in rocket science to see that allowing any or all of them back into this little twin island state carries the very real possibility that they might use the training that they have received in the battleground of Syria to wreak havoc in our society.
But either we are a nation of laws or we are just as bad as those who would seek to overturn our society by violent means. We can't simply ban them from coming home, and yet we simply can't allow them in. There would be a huge and obvious risk to our society if we were to do this.
Perhaps, therefore, one possible solution to this conundrum would be to make it a crime for any citizen to engage in any act of terrorism anywhere in the world and subject to a long term incarceration if he/she does. The obvious problem then would be on agreeing what exactly amounts to an act of terrorism? If I go to a foreign land to fight for freedom can I be classified as a terrorist? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. You see the problem?
Another possible solution might be to say that ALL citizens who have gone to Syria to fight for ISIS cannot re-enter Trinidad & Tobago for, say, at least five years after the war has ended. Again, there are rather obvious objections to this.
But we need to discuss the problem now and come up with a solution now, rather than have a 'knee jerk' reaction to it when it does finally arrive on our doorstep. and trust me: it will sooner or later. That is why I thought that the Minster of National Security's remarks about ISIS not posing an immediate threat to T&T while being quite possibly true, were only telling half the story. There is a potential threat to us and it is home grown. Even if only, say 15 of the 89 return home that will be 15 battle hardened and well trained soldiers whose ideology is highly likely to pose a serious threat to our collective peace and security.
I don't have a solution. I can see the objections to the two possible solutions set out above so please don't bother hauling me over the coals for them. I simply made them for you to see and consider and come up with your own ideas. My point is that we need to start thinking about the problem now and deciding now how we are going to deal with it. Because we will have to deal with it; sooner or later!!
Posted by Robin Montano at 10:54 AM