US military helps thwart Trinidad carnival terror attack
Posted February 9, 2018 11:25 a.m. EST
(CNN) — US troops participated in anti-terror raids Thursday in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago helping to capture four "high value targets," two US military officials told CNN.
The officials said US military personnel from US Southern Command, which oversees US military operations in the region, advised and assisted local Trinidadian security forces in apprehending the four extremists who are believed to be part of a network engaged in plotting terror attacks.
The US troops did not participate in any direct combat.
In a news conference Thursday, a Trinidad and Tobago police official, Michael Jackman, said police uncovered a threat to disrupt the Carnival activities and detained "several persons of interest."
The nation's police and defense forces are working together to ensure a safe and secure environment for the Carnival, Jackman said in video provided by CNN affiliate CNC3 Television.
"The public, as usual, should remain vigilant," he added while not elaborating on whether the threat was terror-related.
The US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago issued a security alert Thursday evening saying that a terror plot has been thwarted but also said that "US government personnel are advised to exercise additional caution and increased situational awareness if they participate in Carnival events," out of an "abundance of caution." The United Kingdom's Foreign Office also issued an advisory and cautioned "an attack is still possible."
Trinidad and Tobago has long been an area of concern for the US military and intelligence communities as it is assessed to be home to ISIS sympathizers with officials saying that some of its citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join extremist groups.
In April 2017, US Navy Admiral Kurt Tidd, the commander of Southern Command said "some of the individuals who left Trinidad-Tobago" have shown up "on film engaged in terrorist acts" and have committed murders in Syria.
An October report by the Soufan Group, a security consultancy that tracks foreign fighters, said that approximately 130 Trinidadians have traveled to Iraq or Syria to become foreign fighters.