PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD — Along with ongoing moves to tighten overall security in Trinidad and Tobago, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said that, in seeking to examine the factors luring citizens to leave to join the terror group ISIS, the government will engage the Muslim community to “dialogue on this and, together, examine root causes.”
According to the Trinidad Guardian, the number of Trinidad and Tobago nationals — fighters as well as family members — who have gone to ISIS zones from late 2012 to date is now estimated at close to 120, an increase over previous figures.
Most recently, nine Trinidad and Tobago nationals were detained in Turkey on July 27. They were held with a Syrian man who was taking them via truck to Syria for recruitment by ISIS, Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported. They are now at Turkey’s Adana Migration Center. The Trinidad and Tobago government is awaiting a report on the circumstances of their presence there from Turkish authorities.
Dillon said there had been a lull in the number of people ISIS-bound in the latter half of last year, but confirmed the security sector has been “seeing activity.”
“In light of what has happened (nine in Turkey), although we’re still uncertain if they were really going to ISIS, we’re examining what factors are luring people to leave Trinidad and Tobago to go there; what’s happening locally with that. So we’ll be engaging the Muslim community to dialogue on this and together examine root causes,” Dillon said.
Turkey, in recent years, has been the gateway to ISIS conflict zones, since no visa is required for Trinidad and Tobago nationals particularly.
In January, Turkey’s Hurriyet News reported four Trinidad and Tobago nationals were held among 913 foreign jihadists from 57 countries fighting with ISIS, over the period January to November 2015. Trinidad and Tobago was the only Caribbean country. Last Thursday, security agencies confirmed two Trinidad and Tobago nationals were sent back from Turkey in January.
So far, only one Trinidad and Tobago person — Kareen Ibrahim — has been deemed a terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Act. No Trinidad and Tobago nationals have so far been listed on the United Nations Security Council’s list of people subject to sanctions for being involved with Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
But this might change, Dillon confirmed, when Trinidad and Tobago pursue action by the attorney general for court declaration of 74 entities as terrorists, among other measures.
Dillon confirmed another matter “thoroughly engaging security attention” is the pitch in ISIS’ July magazine made by Trinidad and Tobago-born ISIS fighter Abu Sa’d al-Trinidadi, who some claim is Shane Crawford.
He urged sympathizers to launch local attacks on Christians, businesses, embassies and civilians. Nationals of four other states made similar pitches to countrymen. Trinidad and Tobago Muslim leaders have rejected his call.
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