The Police High Command yesterday insisted that at no time did local authorities say that they were engaged in a terrorism investigation regarding the 16-year-old Jamaican boy who was refused passage from Suriname to Holland on Saturday.
“We have never mentioned that we are involved in a terrorism investigation. We are saying the investigation is being led by the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch (CTOC) around a youngster that was returned to Jamaica,” Glenmore Hinds, deputy commissioner of police, told the Jamaica Observer.
The Suriname police had reported that the teenager was sent back to Jamaica after Immigration officers suspected that he was travelling to Turkey to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In a statement over the weekend, the police said the teenager arrived at the Johan Adolf Pengel Airport on a flight from Jamaica, intending to transit to The Netherlands, from where he would travel to Turkey.
“He was denied entry to Suriname because we received information from a regional intelligence service that he wanted to join ISIS,” the police said, without identifying the teenager.
The statement said that after the boy was interrogated and additional information received from Jamaica, the decision was made to send him back to Kingston on the next available flight.
But yesterday, Hinds said it was the media that was making the link.
“Terrorism is one commodity in organised crime which the CTOC investigative branch is leading. We mentioned the name of the formation, not the offence, but we are investigating,” Hinds said.
On Monday, as the reports surrounding the investigation drew international attention to the St Mary community where the teen lived, his family members angrily denied the claims, stating that the teenager was on his way to visit a grandparent.
“The reports that he was going to join ISIS group are not true, he was on his way to visit his grandmother, the reports are false,” said the boy’s grandfather.
Residents from the area shared similar sentiments.
“Look at the area we live, not even have water, good roads or Internet, so how ISIS to reach to a youth like that?” said one resident.
“Is more than five years now we don’t see we roads fix, several years we don’t have good supply of water, so why people want to spread such information about our community when is help we want?” said another resident.
Others claimed that since the reports emerged the community has been flooded with police.
Police yesterday said that the teenager was, up to late last night, still in custody.