Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 29th 2017 Contents news A5
Saturday, April 29, 2017 guardian.co.tt
AG: Trinis deported from Turkey interrogated
The 12 people who arrived in
T&T after being deported from
Turkey were last night being
interrogated by security agen-
cies in standard procedure for
deportees, Attorney General
Faris Al-Rawi said
"Turkish authorities didn't give
official information on the group. So
what we were dealing with was the
return of 12 people who were pur-
portedly nationals of T&T," Al-Rawi
"The relevant authorities would
have taken information (at the air-
port last night), checked passports
to see if they are bona fide, checked
what the intelligence data produces
and gone through all required pro-
"We'll make a determination af-
ter---but it's premature to make a
conclusion (on their trip) one way
or the other now."
Al-Rawi declined comment on
United National Congress MP
Roodal Moonilal's description of
the group yesterday as "terrorists."
They were detained in Turkey in
July 2016 with a Syrian national said
to have been an ISIS terror network
recruiter. They were housed at Tur-
key's Adana Detention Centre since
The group---originally reported
as nine---was actually 12, Al-Rawi
confirmed, including two babies.
The babies are reported to be five
and ten months old.
Other information the T&T
Guardian received was that some
members of the group---which was
largely female--- are from Diego Mar-
tin, Rio Claro and Central Trinidad.
Ages of members were reported as
being between four months and 32
years and included teens.
Al-Rawi said Turkey had deport-
ed the group through the UK, which
assisted Government to return them
to T&T. They arrived on a flight from
London escorted by Turkish offi-
cials. He said T&T didn't pay any
The AG said while Government
hadn't had official confirmed infor-
mation from the Turkish authorities
on the group, information was sent
by T&T's honorary consul in Tur-
key. With the lack of information
from Turkey, he said Government
was obliged to manage the situation
with "full investigation."
He said Government had been
planning the logistics of the return
some time and preparations had
been made in advance for yesterday's
arrival. Agencies involved in activ-
ities concerning yesterday's return
included Immigration, Customs,
police, Special Branch and other
divisions affiliated with the Airports
"We put in place resources at the
airport to do the necessary inter-
views and interrogation---standard
practice for any deportee returning
---and had strong supervision at the
airport," AG said.
Information from interviews, in-
telligence obtained at the airport and
background work done on the group
over several months will be compiled
and further reports will come to au-
thorities on that, he added.
However, Al-Rawi said it was
quite unusual that there's been no
complaint by any citizen that 12 na-
tionals had been missing. He noted
that in comparison there was much
comment and outreach when five
nationals were detained in Venezuela
between 2014 and last year.
"So in these circumstances, one
must exercise caution. We're in close
co-ordination with our counterparts
and have done many months of work
to process these people in a coor-
dinated fashion," he said.
"There are many hypotheticals. It
all depends on the interviews, out of
which will come more information,"
The AG also said Cabinet hasn't
yet approved the second phase of
anti-terrorism amendments geared
at dealing with people who return
from fighting with ISIS. That's being
examined by the Legislative Review
He was also uncertain if Parlia-
ment will debate and pass the first
set of anti-terrorism amendments -
now on Parliament's agenda - before
the current session takes the mid-
year break in July. He said Parlia-
ment's agenda was "tight."
Al-Rawi said he didn't expect the
group's return would affect US-TT
relations, since T&T's foreign part-
ners are working closely with T&T
on anti-terrorism action.
JENSEN LA VENDE
Twelve people who had been
detained in Turkey since 2015 re-
turned to Trinidad and Tobago
yesterday after being deported.
In a special media briefing yester-
day, Deputy Police Commissioner
Wayne Dick said the local author-
ities had very little information on
the reason for the detention of the
12, who were stopped from entering
Asked about the connection be-
tween the detainees and the Islamic
State, Dick, who is set to retire next
week, said: "We have no informa-
tion whatsoever linking these per-
sons who are expected to arrive with
Shane Crawford. We also have no
information as to their involvement
in any aspect whatsoever as far as
ISIS is concerned."
Crawford is one of some 150 locals
who left the country to join the ter-
rorist group and was killed following
is US-led air strike in Syria last year.
Crawford's assets were also seized
through new legislation which al-
lows the State to seize the assets of
any national deemed a terrorist.
Dick said the 12, including chil-
dren, were never arrested and
charged in Turkey and they had re-
ceived "limited information" from
Turkish authorities. He said they
hoped to clear up all the ambiguity
when the Turkish agents arrived
with the group. He said the 12 were
never arrested or charged with any
offence and they could not say why
they were deported.
Dick did not disclose the identi-
ties of the individuals because they
were not arrested or charged and this
would open the police up to lawsuits.
Asked why the 12 were deported
to begin with, Dick answered: "First
of all, persons aren't only deport-
ed because they commit a crime.
There are several other reasons, for
instance border entry issues; in this
case we do not know.
"As you've asked the question let
me now say to you, the reason we are
now updating you is because it has
been in the public domain for quite
some time about persons who have
been detained in Turkey and it has
been reported before this day that
law enforcement had been conduct-
ing investigations for us to ascertain.
"Now that we have this informa-
tion, which we only received within a
few hours prior to this point in time,
it is incumbent upon us to report to
It was reported in January that
the group was detained in Turkey
together with a Syrian man who was
suspected of trying to take them
to join terrorist group Isis in Iraq.
They had been housed at the Adana
Refugee Centre in Turkey since their
detention. The T&T Government
had repeatedly said there was little
information forthcoming on them.
But the T&T Guardian was in-
formed that the group comprised at
least three males and five females, all
Muslims. Four are members of one
family, which includes two males,
one four-month-old boy and a
19-year-old male. The females in
that family are aged 29 and 17.
The other family in the group
comprised a 32-year-old woman,
12-year-old girl and ten-month-old
baby boy along with a 20-year-old
woman. One family is from central
Trinidad, it was confirmed. At least
two of the females had been taken
out of school to go overseas, accord-
ing to members of the local Muslim
A model displays a handbag from designer Krystal Fensom's
handbag and clutch collection during Tobago Fashion Coda 5 at the
Magdelena Grand Beach Resort in Lowlands, Tobago, on Thursday.
PHOTO: SHASTRI BOODAN
Cops hope to get info from Turkey officials
What are Government's plans to
protect T&T and the business com-
munity following the return of the 12
people from Turkey?
That was UNC MP Roodal Mooni-
lal's query during yesterday's Parlia-
He said Turkey was deporting
the group who had been named as
"terrorists" and who had terrorist
Moonilal queried if Government
was prepared for the entry of those
persons and had logistics in place
to protect the country from such
deportees, who were a "serious
threat to the nation and business
Moonilal said Government needed
to say if it could protect citizens and
deal with the "crisis" that arises with
the group's return.
UNC Chaguanas West MP Ganga
Singh---from whose constituency
some of the group are said have
been resident prior to leaving---said
he hoped the group's experience in
Turkey would have taught them
that T&T "... is a place that must be
cherished and after their experience
in Turkey, I hope they'll take the op-
portunity to build T&T so we can all
live in harmony."
Moonilal hopes govt can protect citizens from terrorists
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