“Terrorism poses danger to all of us” – Foreign Affairs Minister
By Devina Samaroo
Gone are the days when the threat of terrorism was perceived as a national agenda issue for large and influential countries.
Guyana, a small country situated on the edge of South America, has introduced the concept of terrorism into its laws and has been making global strides in discussion forums on clamping down on terrorism.
These sentiments were expressed by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge during an interview with Guyana Times on Thursday. He
declared that terrorism was indiscriminate and Guyana was not immune to the threat.
There is no one definition of terrorism, but, according to the FBI, it is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
“Terrorism poses dangers to the entire global community. It poses dangers for all of us, innocent people… Whether it’s babies or pregnant women or ill people…We all have to be concerned about terrorism and Guyana has to be part and parcel of a global drive and action to try and curb it,” Greenidge stated.
The Minister could not say how much at risk the country was to the dangers of terrorism, but he assured that every effort was being made to make the environment in Guyana safe for all.
On the heels of a terrorism threat at a local bank, Minister Greenidge said Government was doing all in its power, despite its limited capacity and resources, to ensure the climate in Guyana was calm.
“There’s a lot more strengthening that needs to be done, but, of course, we don’t have the resources by ourselves to carry out any significant battle,” he stated.
Additionally, President David Granger spoke about terrorism concerns during his recent television broadcast of “The Public Interest”.
Granger noted that the concerns would be addressed at the Caricom Heads of Government Summit in the broader concept of threats to regional security.
He noted that particular focus would be placed on Caricom Member Trinidad and Tobago where terrorism concerns were heightened.
Last year, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud disclosed that the Guyana Police Force had “unverified” information of a suspected terrorist in Guyana.
According to the Police Commissioner, there were previous reports of a terrorist, Adnan El Shukrijumah, who was believed to be of Guyanese parentage. Shukrijumah, a leading Al Qaeda militant, was shot and killed in Pakistan a year ago. He was wanted by the United States over a 2009 plot to attack the New York subway system.
“There is some unverified data of one other… still unverified, but no other we are aware of,” he revealed. However, Persaud could not say whether the suspect was in Guyana or was a Guyanese living abroad.
The Police Commissioner further pointed out that there were no reports of Guyanese who have travelled to terrorism-torn countries to join the Islamic State (IS) or have returned to Guyana from any of those countries.
Asked about measures in place to deradicalise possible terrorist threats, the Top Cop outlined that while there were currently no documented plans to tackle terrorism, this was being addressed through the highly-successful Social Crime Prevention Programme.
Persaud also pointed out that at the local level, Guyana was linked to an information-sharing system attached to the Caribbean through the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC), the International Police (Interpol) and American law enforcement agencies.
The Commissioner explained that RIFC collected intelligence from not only Caricom Member States but other countries in the Region, before interfacing with Interpol and US databases. “They do analysis and send it out,” he stated.
Locally, Persaud said the Immigration Department was kept abreast with any such developments through intelligence provided to them from both the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Special Branch of the Guyana Police Force.
While there has been no proven terrorism activity on local soil, Guyana has often found itself in the midst of various terrorism-related controversies, including the El Shukrijumah incident. Back in 2007, a former People’s National Congress (PNC) Member of Parliament in Guyana, Abdul Kadir, was among four Muslim terrorists, who were intercepted during a plot to firebomb the John F Kennedy Airport in New York.
Then in February 2014, Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) had strengthened its security procedures after one of its flights from Guyana to New York was allegedly threatened. Investigations had revealed that the call to the airline company emanated from Barbados.