Chertoff brings anti-terror message

Port-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, October 27, 2006 – US Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff, yesterday took his boss’s message of fighting terror to the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, declaring that continued cooperation between his country and the Caribbean would prevent terrorist attacks.

Chertoff’s comments came as he joined T&T Prime Minister Patrick Manning in signing a memorandum to share data of airline passengers attending next year’s Cricket World Cup. The Memorandum of Intent for the setting up of an Advance Passenger Information that will give the U.S. access to the data to help identify persons who may be possible terror risks.

“I think the Caribbean is very important…we are part of this community because of the coastline that borders on the Gulf and the Caribbean,” the DHS Secretary commented. “There is no reason to believe any part of the world is off limits, that includes this area as well.”

The information that will be shared includes the traveler’s full name, date of birth, nationality of citizenship, travel document number, travel document country of issuance, type of travel document (passport, visa, national identification card, etc.), carrier and flight number and the embarking and disembarking locations. In the case of cruise lines, the Vessel name and voyage number will be substituted.

Interpol is supposed to help establish a similar system that will check visas against suspects while the French and British will assist the region with security to ensure a safe tournament.

Caribbean leaders in July announced a major World Cup security plan that resembled many of the features of the Bush travel plan that was put in place after 9/11. For instance, from mid-January to mid-March next year, airlines traveling to the region would have to furnish American-style manifests before passengers land in a country.

The region also announced the setting up of a US$13 million intelligence gathering and sharing data system that would allow sleuths from around the world to review names and backgrounds of the people attending the event, which runs through 47 days from March 11, 2007. It is estimated that more than 100,000 fans will attend the event that runs through to April 28, 2007. The first match of the tournament will take place on Tuesday March 13 at the newly renovated Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica between the West Indies and Pakistan in Group D. Fifty-one matches will take place over 47 days in eight countries. Almost all of the countries are building new stadiums for the event.

Meanwhile, PM Manning added that talks with Chertoff were able to sensitize him to the need for a “structured and continuing dialogue between Caricom countries and the United States.” (Hardbeatnews.com)