Rio Claro Imam Nazim Mohammed says he hasn’t heard from his second daughter’s husband Emraan Ali, who has been designated by the United States as an ISIS financier, since the couple left for Syria several years ago.
Mohammed spoke about his son-in-law yesterday after the US Department of Treasury (USDT) on Wednesday said Ali and another T&T national, Eddie Aleong, were designated as and sanctioned for being financiers of the ISIS terror network.
The USDT said Ali, 51, carried dual US and T&T citizenship. He was designated for acting for/or on behalf of ISIS.
Ali was described as being based in Syria and as being involved in money transfers from T&T to Syria in support of ISIS.
“As of January 2017, Ali would receive and provide funds to Trinidadian ISIS fighters. For several years, a number of T&T citizens in Syria received money transfers through Ali. In the summer of 2015, Ali lived at an ISIS guest house in Syria and had been assigned to Raqqah, Syria,” the US stated on Wednesday.
Aleong, 38, was said to be based in T&T. He was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of ISIS.
The US said as of March 2018, T&T-based Aleong facilitated money transfers to ISIS members in ISIS-controlled territory. As of January 2017, a Trinidadian ISIS supporter “possibly planned to work Aleong, to transfer funds to Emraan Ali, who would then provide the funds to Trinidadian ISIS fighters in Syria.”
Aleong, of Enterprise, Chaguanas, was among the 15 people held by police in the February plot to disrupt Carnival. He was among 13 eventually released without charge.
T&T officials said the matter regarding the two was under “active management” by the Anti-Terrorism Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.
Yesterday, Imam Mohammed confirmed Ali was married to one of his daughters. He said they lived in Rio Claro for some time before they left T&T for Syria sometime before 2015, but he couldn’t recall exactly when.
“I don’t get no information on them, I don’t know where they are,” Mohammed said, declining comment on the US’s designation of Ali as an ISIS financier.
In 2015, Mohammed confirmed that another daughter, Anisa, her husband Daoud and their three daughters had gone to Syria that year.
Last year, Human Rights Watch group located the women in an Iraqi detention camp after Iraqi forces detained large numbers of ISIS fighters. The T&T women and the man had been separated. It was confirmed it was Mohammed’s daughter and her children.
In May, Anisa, 53 and her three daughters (ages 23 to 32) were sentenced to 20 years’ jail each by a Baghdad court for entering Turkey illegally and for ISIS ties.
Mohammed’s granddaughters called him from prison. They said their children - a total of about seven children ages three to seven - were with them and they wanted to come home. Mohammed says he believed their father was executed.
Yesterday, Mohammed said he had dropped letters to the Attorney General and National Security Minister appealing for Government assistance in bringing the women back
“I haven’t received reply,” he said.
However, Mohammed said his family weren’t ISIS recruiters.
But Islamic Front leader Umar Abdullah yesterday challenged the US to present proof that Ali and Aleong were ISIS financiers.
“They must bring the proof because I know better. When people left to go to Syria they would have left family/friends behind and they would have wanted help when they fell into hardship. What would ISIS want with small T&T money?
“I also sent money to a T&T woman I know who was in Syria. But it doesn’t mean I was financing ISIS. She reached out to me for help. I knew her very well - I sent her (US)$30. She’s still there - but people should focus on T&T’s crime, not terrorism. If left unattended, crime will skyrocket.”