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PM talks Carnival plot with top diplomats

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Prime Minister Keith Rowley, third from left, and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Young pose for a picture with, from left, Australian High Commissioner, John Pilbeam, British High Commissioner, Tim Stew, United States Chargé d’Affaires, John McIntyre and Canadian High Commissioner, Carla Hogan Rufelds after a meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley got together yesterday with representatives of Australia, Canada, United States and the United Kingdom to discuss T&T’s management of its recent national security “challenges.”

A statement from the PM’s office said T&T’s successful management of its recent “national security challenges” was the centrepiece of the meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair.

The meeting appeared to be a post-mortem of the recent situation involving police investigations into a plot to disrupt Carnival 2018. Police announced on February 8 that they had unearthed credible information on the plot and 15 people were detained for almost six days during the investigation. Rowley later said it was no joke and he’d hinted the threat involved disruption of the Carnival parades.

Of the 15 people detained all but two — a couple charged with firearm possession — were released after Carnival. The couple is to reappear in court in March.

Following the Carnival, Rowley had said the police exercise to apprehend people was done by local agencies, but noted information-sharing also takes place with T&T’s partners. In the recent threat issues, he’d said he was eternally grateful to T&T’s international partners. Last Friday in Parliament, the PM also confirmed there is something that can be considered an Islamic State (ISIS) cell or satellite in T&T. However, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi subsequently said the media may have misquoted the PM on this, as he (Rowley) never specifically confirmed any ISIS cell here.

On yesterday’s meeting with foreign representatives, the OPM said Rowley engaged in high-level security talks with British High Commissioner Tim Stew, Australian High Commissioner John Pilbeam, Canadian High Commissioner Carla Hogan Rufelds and United States Chargé d’Affaires John McIntyre.

“During discussions our international partners pledged to continue working with local law enforcement to provide the level of security needed for the citizens of T&T, as well as all other persons residing here,” the statement added.

The OPM statement said OPM Minister Stuart Young was also involved in the discussions. There was no mention of whether National Security Minister Edmund Dillon or Al-Rawi were present or involved.

The T&T Guardian’s recent queries to the US embassy on the US’s views on Rowley’s “Isis cell” revelation, and whether the embassy here in T&T had really been a target in the Carnival disruption threat, as was being alleged during the investigations, have gone unanswered.


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