(Trinidad Guardian) British High Commissioner to T&T, Tim Stew, on Thursday confirmed that the terror threat made on T&T’s Carnival was serious enough for the governments of T&T, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States to hold high level talks on security.
Stew’s confirmation came a day after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley met with a diplomatic delegation, which included Stew, to discuss the security challenges which arose just before the Carnival festivities.
Speaking during the presentation of the Corruption Perception Index 2018 at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Mt Hope, Stew said he had been following the media reportage on the issue, noting there were some who seemed to be dismissive of it. To those who did not believe the threat was real, he said: “I have one message, it is time for you to get real.”
Speaking about recent reports of probes into terrorist financing in T&T, Stew said: “Terrorist financing, whether small or large, brings new threats to our shores, as we have seen to my regret most recently here in Trinidad. Simply, without funding terrorists cannot carry out their evil act.”
On the meeting with Rowley and the input of the other diplomats, Stew said: “We saw the threat that was made against Carnival this year, just a few weeks ago. Those sorts of threats are international in their nature and we have to stand together.”
He said during the course of the threat, the British High Commission was in contact with some Government ministers to find out what support, “we (the British High Commission) could bring to help the Government.”
Stew supported Rowley’s position that the security operation to block the threat was, “government-led.” He added that the British government was prepared to put its resources and expertise at T&T’s disposal if it was necessary. He said Wednesday’s meeting with Rowley was a follow up to the collaboration.
“It was a specific initiative by the four nations that we wanted to have further engagement right at the very top of government,” Stew said.
Noting that T&T and Britain had signed a bilateral MoU last November covering a range of security cooperation initiative between the two countries, Stew added: “We are in the process of getting that fully implemented.”
Stew said once the MoU is implemented it would provide the framework for cooperation for both countries on security matters, including terrorism and cybercrime.
On February 8, the T&T Police Service said it had credible information on a plot to disrupt Carnival 2018 and 15 people were subsequently detained for about six days during the investigation.
The PM and his Government have maintained this was no joking matter.