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ISIS pursuing Trini foothold

Published: 
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Regional fighters can infiltrate western borders — criminologist
A young girl sits next to flowers and candles placed outside the French embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, yesterday, after the attacks in Paris on Friday. French officials said scores of people died Friday night when attackers launched gun attacks at Paris cafes, detonated suicide bombs near France's national stadium and killed hostages inside a concert hall during a rock show. AP Photo

Criminologist Daurius Figueira is warning that T&T Muslims recruited by ISIS could be used to infiltrate and destabilise western countries, including those in Europe coping with an influx of refugees. 

Exactly one week after ISIS released a video featuring four Trinidad-born fighters urging T&T muslims to take up arms to fight in Syria, the terrorist organisation is claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks that killed well over a hundred people, saying that the attacks were in retaliation for France’s bombing in Syria.

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian Figueira said: “There is a purpose to the video. Why produce a recruitment video only for T&T, given the comparatively small size of the Muslim population here. It accounts for only about five per cent of the population?

“The people behind the Al Raqqa recruitment video are now sending a message specifically to Muslims in T&T that there is a T&T contingent of fighters now in ISIS, trained and led by nationals of T&T. 

“The Ministry of National Security must investigate that: The formation of a T&T ISIS contingent, the message they want to send and why they want to recruit third world people whose first language is English.”

He said the only other promotional release to date in English had British Islamic State fighters in it. 

Figueira said Caricom nationals, Trinidadians and people from the Commonwealth who spoke English and were educated can be used by ISIS to take the fight on the home soil of first-world countries such as Britain and the US. 

T&T and eight other Caribbean countries enjoy visa-free travel to Europe.

He said the state agencies of the previous government had failed to penetrate and dismantle these structures and the IS video was in fact taunting the state agencies of T&T on their failure. 

He said those fighters presented in the IS video will not return to T&T except if they wanted to escape IS for some reason. 

Figueira said the major issue for T&T was recruitment here and the export of potential fighters to IS. 

According to former National Security Minister Gary Griffith, about 30 T&T nationals made the trip to Syria to fight for ISIS last year. 

The United Nations had also warned that T&T is one of a number of countries with Muslim populations that is being used as a recruiting ground for the terror group. 

Cyber hackers linked to the Islamist organisation attacked the government computers of Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Former Executive Director of the National Operations Centre (NOC) Garvin Heerah told the Sunday Guardian that the details that had surfaced in the viral videos were alarming.

He said the video and information obtained through internet surveillance continued to engage the attention of national security. 

Heerah there is continuity between the last National Security administration, and the current one led by Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon.

Heerah said the probability that that the jihadist recruits could return to T&T should not be dismissed, and all the arms of security and law enforcement, here and abroad, must work together.