Security officials in Trinidad are to decide on a policy regarding locals who had traveled to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State being allowed to return to the island, resettle and live a normal life.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said this week that the administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will soon have to make a very tough decision regarding islanders who have opted to fight alongside IS troops in Syria and Iraq after local media and police confirmed that up to 50 Trinidadians might have flown to the Middle East to become fighters there. Some are reportedly earning up to $1,000 monthly in wages.
“We will have to make very serious decisions,” the Express Newspaper quoted him as saying this week, noting that “some countries have adopted a policy of having such persons debarred from re-entering on the basis that they are a danger to national security. It is a matter which we have to discuss at the level of the national security council.”
Dozens of people on the island of 1.3 million just north of the Venezuelan and South American coast have come forward to identify at last two men from southern Trinidadian districts as those appearing on You Tube and other social media sites touting Islamic propaganda, speaking clearly in Trini accents.
“If it is clear that individuals have gone and involved themselves in terrorist activity, obviously we will have to make some very serious decisions because the security of the country is of paramount importance.”
The plans come as Islamic officials in neighboring Guyana have warned young Guyanese Muslims not to become radicalized and give in to urges to fight with ISIS despite the horrible track record of military and other involvement of western countries like the U.S. in Middle Eastern affairs, sometimes with very deadly consequences.
Fazal Ferouz, head of the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (COIG) suggested that information available on social media and other sources can easily influence young Muslims to sign on as fighters as he pleaded with them to stay away from any involvement with IS as its activities have been condemned by Muslims around the world.
“What IS is doing is totally un-Islamic. We have said so and the most respected Islamic scholars around the world have said so too. We have no evidence that any Guyanese have gone abroad to fight but we hope not.”
Guyana’s population comprises of nine percent Muslims.
He said that the CIOG has gone to great lengths to persuade young males from any involvement in activities outside of their home base but he said leaders acknowledge that well packaged information on alleged atrocities committed against the Muslim world by western nations, militaries and intelligence agencies could well influence them otherwise.
“For example the U.S. just supported Israel against Palestine. The Israelis slaughtered about 2000 men, women and children. Europe said nothing, neither the U.S., but the young Muslims are seeing such reports and could react.”
He said leaders will continue to preach against radicalization in Mosques and hope that no locals enlist as foreign fighters even as Islamic counterparts in Trinidad make similar please.
Minister Griffith said the definition of a terrorist is changing from decades of the past and authorities have to take note of this.
As he spoke, Ms. Joan Crawford, the mother of one of the confirmed Trinidadian fighters, Shane, 29, said that her son is in Syria as he had little to do in Trinidad where he grew up.
“He is fighting. He does not believe in raping women and killing children. It is those crimes which were being committed in Syria which prompted him to go and fight. His life is better. He has purpose. He has his family and he is not coming back here,” the paper quoted her as saying.