May 19, 2022

Caribbean Muslims And Isis

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article-2655310-1EAB47AC00000578-544_634x327By Bert Wilkinson From the AmNews

Islamic leadership groups in Trinidad are to meet this week to discuss and assess reports that dozens of local Muslim activists have left the prosperous twin-island republic with Tobago for the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State, with some reportedly earning up to $1,000 a day for their services.

The Trinidad Guardian, one of the island’s leading newspapers, reported this week that Trinidad Muslim League President Nasser Mustapha said the local community is appalled at increasingly credible reports that some from the community have opted to join rebel fighters in Syria and Iraq and wants to get a proper handle on the situation before making a more informed statement.

“They are using our religion for their misguided aims,” he said as he prepares for the meeting. “Scholars have written a lot about this, but joining ISIS is not the way to paradise. These fighters are taking things out of the proper context and using it for their misguided aims. I am very shocked to know that Trinidadians could be involved in this. It is very unfortunate that we have reached this stage.

“I am praying for them to return to sanity, balance and objectivity. People have lost their direction by supporting those who are involved in these barbaric things. I pray for them to regain their sanity,”

The meeting comes just days after the administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar decided to join with the U.S. and other nations to co-sponsor an anti-terrorism resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, triggering criticisms of authorities and fears in some quarters that the island should have laid low rather than join with the powerful and attract unnecessary attention to itself.

Opposition leader Keith Rowley was among the most vocal of critics in this regard, but both the prime minister and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan have argued that the island is not immune from terrorist activities and actually has a history of deadly attacks that include the July 1990 attempted coup by the Jammat al Muslimeen group.

Twenty-four people died, a large chunk of commercial Port of Spain was destroyed by fire, then-Prime Minister Ray Robinson and other legislators were held hostage for nearly a week, beaten or shot by rebels, and government buildings, including the state television station, were attacked and staff were held captive as well.

Persad-Bissessar said that the island remains vulnerable.

“Terrorist activity is borderless, and by saying we are opening Trinidad and Tobago, I think we are already open as everybody else has been open in this regard for possible terrorist threat,” she said. “To not have co-sponsored, to not have been active in our commitment in the fight against terrorists, I think would have opened Trinidad and Tobago to serious international pressure and censure, as well as greater risks and threats.”

But even as the Muslim League is preparing for its emergency meeting, security officials are indeed trying to determine whether locals have left the island for the Middle East to become ISIS fighters.

Ramlogan said that efforts are also being made to determine whether videos being circulated purporting to show Trinidadians in action are in fact authentic.

“While the authenticity of the videos cannot be established, it cannot be ignored nor discounted,” he said. “We have had bombings in Port of Spain, shots being fired at President Noor Hassanali’s car, the July 1990 insurrection and the conviction of Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for joining a failed plot to firebomb John F. Kennedy Airport in 2007. Silence is not an option.”

Still, the Islamic umbrella body argues that locals should not be barred from traveling to the Middle East, as many go there for legitimate business, including religious studies and to visit Mecca.

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