CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. May 1, 2009: Four Caribbean countries have been identified as potential transit points for terrorists by the U.S. government.
The five are the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the CARICOM nation of Belize. They were all identified as areas of possible terror risks in the Western Hemisphere in the latest `Country Reports on Terrorism.`
Jamaica’s proximity to the United States, well developed sea lanes and air links, and the transit of over two million travelers annually between the United States and Jamaica make the country a potential transit point for terrorists, states the 2009 report, released Thursday.
It also cited the British authorities’ deportation of radical Jamaican-born cleric, Sheik Abdullah El-Faisal, back to Jamaica, as an area of concern for both Jamaican and U.S. authorities. In Belize, U.S. officials insist the country’s borders are extremely porous and it remained easy to change identity by purchasing stolen passports, making it easy for terrorists to sneak in.
It also cited the fact that the country is sparsely populated and has limited human and technological resources to monitor individuals and groups residing within or transiting through its borders.
The Dominican Republic made the report because U.S. authorities say the country is considered a transit point for suspected terrorists and extremists to Europe, Africa, and within the Western Hemisphere.
`Despite good intentions, the Dominican government lacked the ability to control its air, land, and sea borders fully, due in part to corruption and the mismanagement of resources,` states the 2009 report. `While many land border, freight, and airline hubs remained permeable.`
Trinidad and Tobago made the list because of the 2008 extradition of two Guyanese and one Trinidadian accused of plotting to blow up jet fuel tanks and a fuel pipeline at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. U.S. authorities also cite the presence of Imam Yasin Abu Bakr of Jamaat al-Muslimeen, who became the first person prosecuted under the 2005 Antiterrorism Act inT&T, after delivering an allegedly seditious sermon in late 2005.
The U.S. State Department, however, insists that `the threat of a transnational terrorist attack remained low for most countries in the Western Hemisphere.`
U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. – By CWNN Staffer