Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has been under the threat of Radical Islam for years; but we hardly ever hear about it, which is incredibly odd when this country is located so near the US – the main target of Global Jihad.
Trinidad and Tobago is composed by two main islands (the nation's namesake) and numerous smaller landforms (e.g. little Tobago, St Gilles Island), and it's located 11 km off the Venezuelan coast, bordering the Caribbean to the north.
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is the third richest country by GDP/capita in the Americas after the US and Canada. The world bank has recognised it as a high income economy (which is primarily industrial).
National Wealth: oil and natural gas.
Population: 1,223,916 (2014 estimate)
Religion: 57% Christian, 18.1% Hindu, 5% Muslim, 7.3% Other, 13.3% None
Currency: Trinidad and Tobago Dollar
Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time (UTC -4); DST not observed
Politics: Dual-Party and Bicameral Parliamentary Systems based on the Westminster System. Head of State: the President. Head of Government: the Prime Minister.
Foreign Relations: it votes independently but it often supports US and EU positions.
Military: defended by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, which is currently one of the largest military forces in the English-speaking Caribbean.
T&T and Global Jihad
This small nation has not been immune to Jihadist activities, probably due to its strategic location (closer to both the US and Venezuela). Islamic groups have been trying to establish themselves in T&T to convert Christians and to receive their brethren coming from abroad (to either settle there or to jump over to Venezuela – a country known for hosting a wide range of Islamic Terrorist Groups such as Hezbollah; and where Islamic Operatives from T&T [funded by the Islamic Front, Waajihatul Islaamiyah] train before either going to Syria or to penetrate other Latin American countries).
The Trinidadian leadership has been aware of this stark reality and its commitment to counter terrorism has resulted in US assistance to fight Islamic terror (particularly when a T&T national, a member of the Muslim Group, tried to buy assault rifles and machine guns in Florida, a couple of months after the 9/11).
Jamaat al-Muslimeen Operations
Jamaat al-Muslimeen (JaM, i.e. the Muslim Group) was founded in 1969 by Yassin Abu Bakr – a former police officer from Trinidad, born in 1930, who converted to Islam while studying in Canada. Abu Bakr founded JaM after being inspired by the American Black Muslim Movement. Jamaat al-Muslimeen, in '69, was composed of 12 members only; however, due to years of funding by Muammar Qaddafi by 2001 the group had between 6,000 to 7,000 members (in Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups by Stephen E. Atkins, pp 39). This group first rose to notoriety, on the 27th of July 1990, when it attempted a coup d'état, in Port of Spain.
The Muslim Group attempts to pass as an Islamic Rights organisation that fights against the oppression of Muslims in T&T, but history and data contradicts that narrative as JaM is engaged in criminal activities (e.g. ranging from narcotics and weapons trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, to money laundering and extortion) and political activism. Last July, members of the group caused the two islands to be on high alert due to a shoot-out in the nation's capital, Port of Spain. Moreover, reports have linked this group to elements who ended up in ISIS ranks.
Having said this, JaM and, its sister-organisation, the Islamic Front are yet another example of how Islamic Rights groups serve as a front for Islamic Terror movements and whose behaviour reminds us that of Hizb ut-Tahrir, of the Gaza-based UAWC (Union of Agricultural Workers Committees) and the UHWC (Union of Health Workers Committees) – legitimate groups that aid and abet terrorism.
Analysts have looked at Trinidad and Tobago and they are concerned that Jamaat al-Muslimeen and Waajihatul Islaamiyah would join hands with Al-Qaeda. Such concerns are supported by the fact that both organisations have been cooperating with the Islamic State (ISIS) – a branch of the AQ tree.
In April, it was reported that Trinidad and Tobago has been blacklisted by the UN as an exporter of fighters for ISIS.
Imam Nazim Mohammed (allegedly a former member of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen, who participated in the 1990 attempted coup) is the spiritual leader of the masjid in Boos Village (in Rio Claro, a known recruitment area) and a suspected ISIS recruiter. When the Trinidad Express interviewed him, last year, regarding the Trinidadian Ministry of National Security's belief that he's working for ISIS, Imam Mohammed deflected by saying that if Muslims attending his mosque were going to Syria was because they “wanted to help their brothers and were joining the cause." - upon an analysis of the keywords employed, Imam Nazim Mohammed just established the link between Jamaat al-Muslimeen and ISIS.
Videos have emerged showing Trinidad nationals training Children to shoot AK-47, in the ranks of ISIS. Another ISIS video has emerged showing Trinidadians, alongside their children, in Raqqa, explaining the marvels of Jihad and how happy they are to have converted to Islam; how deeply they felt to be their duty to do Jihad in Syria and establish the Islamic State.
Without any doubt, these videos serve to recruit and inspire more Trinidad and Tobago nationals not only to train and travel to Syria, but also to train and wreak havoc in T&T as part of the Global Jihad ambitions (the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria, in their mind, is only the first step).
T&T is the only country in the western-hemisphere to have suffered an Islamic insurrection, despite its tiny Muslim population. Therefore, it's useful to look at this country more closely inasmuch as it serves as a good example to countries welcoming massive numbers of Muslim migrants (with many bearing false documentation) because if for Paris all it took was 2-4 terrorists (in January) and 8-14 terrorists (last Friday) to be attacked, we can only imagine what 6,000-7,000 of Islamic elements (and ISIS has stated that it has already managed to infiltrate 4,000 of its operatives in Europe) might be able to do, once their finish to organise their respective cells.
When we look at what's happening around the world, we can't help but to recall PM Modi's words "Terrorism is taking new shape and new name. No country, big or small, in the north or the south, east or west, is free from its threat."
(This article was done in cooperation with Cristina C. Giancchini)
(Image: Ed. Trinidad & Tobago Flag - Google Images)