Tagged: Tobago

SOUTHCOM Commander: Terror networks ‘reach deep into our hemisphere’ in ‘new and surprising ways’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

The commander of U.S. Southern Command said there’s “significant concern” in the Western Hemisphere about “the ability of radicalization to occur via the internet” and create terrorists in their home countries, as well as the return of foreign fighters who spent time in Syria.

“The threats that we and our partners face in the region are a chief concern to many,” Adm. Kurt Tidd told reporters at the Pentagon, underscoring “the sophistication, adaptiveness and considerable financing leveraged by criminal and extremist elements.”

“Drug traffickers, human smugglers, terrorist supporters, arms dealers and money launderers are not new to this region, but they operate in new and surprising ways, compared to years past,” he said. “Relying solely on what worked in decades past to find and disrupt them is not enough. Threat network enablers like facilitators, suppliers, recruiters and technicians provide criminals and extremist with unprecedented global reach, and the ability to operate stealthily in both the physical and the cyber worlds. Criminal networks leverage all means available to move lethal narcotics, people, weapons and dirty money into and out of Latin America and the U.S. homeland.”

“Extremist networks like ISIS reach deep into our hemisphere, inspire would-be terrorists to conduct attacks in the region, or to attempt entry into the United States to do our citizens harm.”

Pressed to elaborate on ISIS movement in the Western Hemisphere, Tidd pointed to the at least 100 jihadists, by that government’s count, from Trinidad and Tobago who fought for ISIS abroad.

“That would be probably the best indicator that, yes, in fact, there are individuals who have been radicalized, who this pernicious message has taken root,” he said. “And so it’s one that is of concern to the government of Trinidad and Tobago. They have focused on it. And so I think it’s an area that we all have to take into consideration.”

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Returning ISIS militants may plan terror attacks on Caribbean tourists, officials warn

(PJ MEDIA) — By Tyler O’Neil

Western tourists spending their vacation on Caribbean islands may be targeted by returning Islamic State (ISIS) militants, officials warned. A vast majority of Westerners fighting with ISIS hail from Trinidad and Tobago, and the country has struggled with radical Islam in the past. As ISIS loses ground in the Middle East, threats across the world are expected to increase.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is taking measures to prevent fighters from returning to the islands, but the threat may be impossible to check.

When asked about the risk of ISIS members returning to Trinidad and Tobago, Maj. Gen. (Ret’d) Edmund Dillon, minister of national security for that country, said, “It is not a matter of yes but when.”

Rebecca Perring at Britain’s Express reported the threat to Western tourists in the Caribbean, noting that jihadis might be able to travel between most of the Caribbean islands without a visa. Any terrorist reaching the Bahamas could even pose a threat to Florida.

“Per capita, Trinidad has the greatest number of foreign fighters from the Western Hemisphere who have joined the Islamic State,” John Estrada, a former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, told The New York Times. “Trinidadians do very well with ISIL.”

Fighters from Trinidad and Tobago have risen high up in the ranks, and gain respect for speaking English. ISIS has used them to spread propaganda throughout the Caribbean, Estrada added.

According to the Caribbean Crime and Security Implementation Agency (IMPACS), more than 200 people from the Caribbean have traveled to join the Islamic State.

Trinidad and Tobago reportedly has the highest proportion of Islamist radicals in America. The tiny country has a population of 1.3 million citizens, only 104,000 of whom are Muslim. At least 130 of them have traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS, according to Trinidad figures between 2013 and 2014.

In 1990, a radical Muslim group carried out a failed coup. In 2007, terrorists from the country and neighboring Guyana planned an attack on fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The terrorists were sentenced to life in prison in 2012.

Neither CARICOM nor the national security ministry of Trinidad and Tobago returned repeated requests for comment. PJ Media asked what plans CARICOM and Trinidad had implemented to defend against returning ISIS members carrying out terror attacks.

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