‘Boosting security’

CARICOM authorities are tracking potential threats to next month’s International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world to the region.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Jones, executive director of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), told a Nation team on Thursday that several meetings were being held with high-level regional security officials with the aim of beefing up security and monitoring any possible situations which could disrupt the games.

Jones was contacted on Thursday following the online circulation of a security alert from his agency which indicated that it had received intelligence of a potential threat to the World Cup from the Pro-Islamic State (Daesh) through the media group “Nashir Pakistan”.

The alert called on member states and partners to continue sharing information and intelligence about potential threats and suspicious activities with CARICOM IMPACS in the run-up to the tournament and throughout. It further noted: “Increased vigilance and additional security precautions are critical to mitigating the threat of terrorism and ensuring a safe and secure Caribbean region.”

In the alert, it is stated the Pro-Islamic State (IS) media sources have launched campaigns inciting violence against sporting events, which included video messages from the Afghanistan-Pakistan branch, ISKhorasan (IS-K) which highlighted assaults in numerous countries and urged supporters to join the battlefield in their countries.

IMPACS stated: “Given the terror group’s demonstrated capacity and intent to incite violence, vigilance and robust security measures must be employed to mitigate terrorism threats towards sporting events.”

Jones said they were monitoring that threat, among others, but gave the assurance there was nothing to cause panic or disrupt the much-anticipated matches. He confirmed the notification was sent out by CARICOM IMPACS, but had been done so “prematurely”.

“We want to reassure that we are working with all of our international partners to monitor any such activity, not only in terms of people’s movement within the region, but what’s also happening in the cyberspace, because that’s where it was, that’s where the chatter was picked up,” he revealed.

He pointed out that “even up to this morning when we had our meeting, we had both officials from ICC, CWI [Cricket West Indies] and all of the commissioners and chiefs of defence staff from the respective host stations”.

“There are a number of things that we have to be keeping our eyes on.”

Listing examples, Jones said they would also be monitoring any weather threats from the hurricane season and potential protest relating to the Israel and Palestine situation.

“We would anticipate that if there are any such disruptions, though, they would moreso occur in Northern America, moreso than in our space. But in terms of some of those environmentalists who would want to protest some of these sponsors who may not be as green as they would wish.

“So there’s a whole remit of concerns that we’re keeping our eyes on, but there’s nothing for us to be overly concerned about. The biggest match, we’ll see how that turns out in the finals, but the biggest match in anticipation would be that of India versus Pakistan. And that preliminary match again is happening in the United States. We will see how things play out and who qualifies for the finals. But rest assured, again at the meeting, we all pitched in and offered assistance in terms of beefing up our numbers within the member states, particularly for Barbados, at the final as well. So we can anticipate and know there’s consideration for the finals, we can have some regional support from our counterparts throughout the region to boost our numbers.”

Jones said Barbados was “well poised in terms of all the preparation” while he acknowledged that efforts were being made in getting other countries up to scratch.

“It makes no sense to be coming first and the rest not finishing because we’re all in this together and we can’t get to the finals if the preliminaries are not successfully executed. So, like I said, we had a meeting today to see where the others are at, what assistance they may require, and to help one another with training and sharing resources and that sort of thing.”

When contacted on this matter, Attorney General Dale Marshall did not speak about the IS threat but assured security was paramount.

“Any matter that touches and concerns Barbados’ national security is not such a matter that I will discuss publicly. I will say though that we have been focused on our security needs both generally and for the T20 tournament. We are doing this for Barbadians and for Barbados. I can assure the Barbadian public and all interested parties that we are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that our country is fully protected,” he said.

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