T&T Extreme Prejudice For Citizens Fighting with ISIS –Never Happen!
Submitted by Tony Humphrey
Is this a reality check for PM Dr. Rowley or is this absolutely unacceptable, unconstitutional and flat out wrong. I can hear the Bajan progressives screaming bloody murder even as those who sit in the conservative seats raise their eyebrows with a smirk.
The headline read: French Special Forces Targeting French Citizens Fighting for ISIS in Iraq. The story quoted: “The motive for the secret operation is to ensure that French nationals with allegiance to Islamic State never return home to threaten France with a terror attack [….] France has been the target of several deadly attacks either inspired by Islamic State or orchestrated from the militants’ Middle East strongholds, including the November 2015 Paris strikes.”
The mother of a Trinidad & Tobago ISIS combatant said about her son, “This is his choice. Nobody is going to love him less for his decision.”
Would we condemn the government and love them less if they help him truly fulfill his choice like the French. Ideally not. Would Bajans accept our government doing similar? Ideally, yes.
But no progressive or law-abiding conservative would ever abide ex-judicial state sponsored execution so the Trinis would have to tread very carefully if they ever adopted that extreme measure of the French (the Americans and others).
If you are suffering continuous terrorist attacks on your home soil is it unacceptable to target one possible source of those attacks and sever it close to the root. Or are these heads of a Hydra!
In every democratic environment it is expressly forbidden under the law to execute/condemn a citizen without trial for a crime they ‘may’ commit.
When that citizen engages in warfare and training – in a foreign land – directly contra the express directions and regulations of the country of which he is a citizen do circumstances change?
Cautiously we tread, because as we have seen under draconian ‘Patriot Act’ styled national security regulations that in periods of national terror disarray actions are implemented impetuously and almost imperially.
After the November 2016 attacks in Paris then President Hollande directed a state of emergency and it was common to have warrantless raids of homes to root out possible terrorists. This period of official ‘ex-judicial’ state supremacy was as severe as it was vital and necessary.
Even then after various extensions were issued there were loud voices from UN human rights panels, AI (Amnesty) and others which harshly denounced Hollande’s directives; but these human rights appeals were rejected by the French courts with the admonishment that there was still ‘imminent peril’ in the country.
The president and some lawmakers have also pushed for citizenship to be stripped from any convicted terrorist who is a dual citizen. And others in Europe has gone one step further and demanded that citizenship be denied any terror convict who gained citizenship via birth-right – ‘jus soli’- or via naturalization.
Bluntly stated this would seek to deny the international law which asserts that a person cannot be rendered stateless. But accordingly and with grave irony, the French Special Forces actions does appear to consider rendering them lifeless for the same offence as more acceptable and definitive!
Now, surely the disaffection in the region driving the Islamist radicalism does not have the same deep seated hatred that is evident in France and her sister countries but still our youth are attracted to the ISIS appeal.
They too go forth to become soldiers in this deadly war and on their return they too recruit others to the cause and indoctrinate more youth like themselves. Their threat is still grave. Only those who studied the T&T disaffection of the 1980s could have fore-seen that the T&T Red House would be under siege by force of arms from Islamist Jamaat-al-Muslimeen extremists.
A reminder that nothing is impossible.
It’s worth noting also as experts have highlighted, that to this day Trinidad & Tobago is the only western nation that has endured an Islamic insurrection. The infamy of that 1990 coup attempt cannot be forgotten as we dissect possible future actions by any of the reported 50 plus ISIS mercenaries of T&T birth fighting in Syria.
Thus the Trinidad and Tobago National Security Minister is very much aware of this threat. He said that his government has “very serious decisions” to make about the “several nationals now linked to the [ISIS] group” regarding the return to their homeland. Rather innocuously he also said that they were “looking at the formation of a counter-terrorism unit to deal especially with these matters”.
Considering that T&T has a long history of establishing specialized units to deal with serious national security issues his remarks are rather understated.
We must also recall that some of these ISIS fighters were implicated in the T&T 2011 plot to foment assassination and terror even as other T&T nationals were implicated in allegations of extremism terror activities in 2014 in a plot in Venezuela.
Regardless of these past affiliations, however, the laser focus must be the possible future terror and mayhem to rule of law in the region.
The ‘imminent peril’ remains with us as a very foreboding and realistic eventuality.