Samoa not immune to terrorist attack – Fuiavailili

Last Friday's terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand confirms terrorism has hit the Pacific and Samoa is not immune.

That is the view of Police Commissioner, Fuiavaiiliili Egon Keil, in the wake of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday.

He said most law enforcement agencies knew that with terror attacks increasing in Europe and the United States, at some point it was going to happen in the Pacific. 

“But it is coming here to the Pacific and it’s here now in New Zealand,” he said.

Praising the first responders in the Christchurch attack, Fuiavaiiliili said the “dramatic experience” in New Zealand raises a lot of questions about security in Samoa. 

“It makes us, specifically here in Samoa (ask), if it’s going to happen in Samoa are we prepared? Do we have information that will lead us to believe that is going to happen in Samoa anytime soon? 

"It is all question marks if it’s going to happen in Samoa, but if it happened in New Zealand – where it’s a safe community but now it has happened – you can’t rule out Samoa or any other Pacific nation. It’s a big concern for the Pacific Islands and chief of police, especially now it has happened," he said. 

The Police Commissioner said the issue will be addressed in a Chiefs of Police conference to be held in American Samoa in August this year. 

In terms of being proactive to prevent such an attack from occurring in Samoa, Fuiavaiiliili said the answer lies in raising more awareness and working with international law enforcement authorities. 

“Awareness is very important, we have to be proactive, think forward and open minded. We have counter intelligence so we have to be connected with other law enforcement. You can’t be doing this job by yourself we have to connect with NZ, Australia and US. We are no longer alone in this thing."

Fuiavaiiliili stressed that it is not just law enforcement that should work together but also other non-government organisations and Government ministries. 

“Our border security is very important. The Immigration and Customs, we have to come together and share information, that is why we have the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Center (PTCCC) here in Apia. So we share transnational crime issue and this is part of it here. We are getting intelligence and hopefully can prevent something like this if it ever comes to Samoa.”

As the country begins the countdown to the Pacific Games in July this year, there will be concerns about security following the Christchurch attack. But Fuiavaiiliili has assured the public that measures are in place to ensure the safety of the public. 

“With the Pacific Games, measures are in place to ensure something like this doesn’t happen. And again we have to look at our partners; Immigration, Customs and authorities in border areas. 

We have to deal with them in NZ, Australia and all other countries that are coming in to Samoa. We have to think critically and thinking along the lines of security," he added. 

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?