Simon Cottee asks, ISIS in the Caribbean. Trinidad has the highest rate of Islamic State recruitment in the Western hemisphere. How did this happen?
In a recent paper in the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, John McCoy and W. Andy Knight posit that between 89-125 Trinidadians—or Trinis, to use the standard T&T idiom—have joined ISIS. Roodal Moonilal, an opposition Member of Parliament in T&T, insists that the total number is considerably higher, claiming that, according to a leaked security document passed on to him, over 400 have left since 2013. Even the figure of 125 would easily place Trinidad, with a population of 1.3 million, including 104,000 Muslims, top of the list of Western countries with the highest rates of foreign-fighter radicalization; it’s by far the largest recruitment hub in the Western Hemisphere, about a four and a half hour flight from the U.S. capital.
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In 2011, the government declared a state of emergency, in response to a wave of violent crime linked to drug trafficking and intelligence reports warning of an assassination plot against the then-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and senior members of her cabinet. At-Trinidadi, along with several others, was detained on suspicion of colluding in the alleged plot. In Dabiq, at-Trinidadi, alludes to this, but denies any involvement. “That would have been an honor for us to attempt,” he acknowledged, “but the reality of our operations was much smaller.” He also credited a Muslim scholar named Ashmead Choate as a formative spiritual influence. Choate, a fellow Trini and former principal of the Darul Quran Wal Hadith Islamic School in Freeport, central Trinidad, reportedly left for Syria between 2012 and 2013, taking his family with him. According to at-Trinidadi’s testimony in Dabiq, Choate, who was detained alongside him during the state of emergency, was killed fighting in Ramadi, Iraq.
Long-time readers of this blog may recall that in 2007 Kareem Ibrahim from Trinidad was arrested as member of the JFK terror plot to blow up the airport’s major fuel supply tanks and pipeline.
Earlier yet, Trinidad had an Islamic insurrection – read the full article.