Criminologist: SSA terrorist report is scaremongering

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, women walk in the al-Hol camp that houses some 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group, many of them foreign nationals, in Hasakeh province, Syria on May 1, 2021. – AP PHOTO

Criminologist Daurius Figuera says the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) report presented in Parliament on a possible national security threat of people radicalised by terrorist groups was not guided by thorough threat assessment, and described it as scaremongering.

Laid in the Senate on Tuesday, the SSA’s annual report for 2021 outlined a possible threat from terrorist figures who may have links to locals with radical Islamic leanings.

The SSA in 2020 said terror actors remained a serious threat in Trinidad and Tobago owing to their radical leanings.

Contacted for comment on Wednesday, Figuera said he read about the report in the newspaper, but was not convinced it was grounded in intelligence.

He questioned whether the threat referred to by the SSA would originate from repatriating those who remain in Iraq and Syria after the fall of the Islamic State or from home-grown Islamic radicals.

Figuera said the government had a responsibility to return those abroad and engage them through rehabilitation.

He added that the SSA and other arms of law enforcement should be left to deal with any emerging threats at home.

“The international community, especially the US, is demanding we take back our citizens, so therefore, for those people, the women and children and the young men, we have to speak about repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration.

“As to home-grown threat, it is the duty of the SSA to locate that threat, understand the nature of the threat and to ensure that threat never escalates to military attacks. They have to do their job.

“What I found in the SSA report, as printed in the newspaper, is that it degenerated into scaremongering, not intelligence, and not proper threat assessment that was based on actual intelligence collected. So it was scaremongering based on projections.”

Newsday also spoke to activist Umar Abdullah, who dismissed the report and questioned what threat the SSA was referring to.

He stressed that other countries, along with the US, have advocated for the repatriation of women and children abroad, and said the first priority of the government should be to return its citizens.

“I don’t know where they (the SSA) are getting their information from, or who is advising them, because obviously they are operating in a bubble by themselves, Because you have a general in the US army who indicated that prior to all of this how important it is to repatriate all of those people.

“I am in total dismissal.”