ISIS in the Caribbean

Dec 11, 2016

By Simon Cottee

This summer, the so-called Islamic State published issue 15 of its online magazine Dabiq. In what has become a standard feature, it ran an interview with an ISIS foreign fighter. “When I was around twenty years old I would come to accept the religion of truth, Islam,” said Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi, recalling how he had turned away from the Christian faith he was born into.

At-Trinidadi, as his nom de guerre suggests, is from the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), a country more readily associated with calypso and carnival than the “caliphate.” Asked if he had a message for “the Muslims of Trinidad,” he condemned his co-religionists at home for remaining in “a place where you have no honor and are forced to live in humiliation, subjugated by the disbelievers.” More chillingly, he urged Muslims in T&T to wage jihad against their fellow citizens: “Terrify the disbelievers in their own homes and make their streets run with their blood.”

For well over a year and a half now, Raqqa, the so-called stronghold of the Islamic State in Syria, has been subjected to sustained aerial bombardment by U.S., French, and Russian war planes. In recent months, the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition has reportedly killed more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including key figures among ISIS’s leadership, most notably its senior strategist and spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. It has also launched an offensive, now in its second month, on the group’s Iraqi capital of Mosul. According to estimates by American officials, ISIS has lost about 45 percent of its territory in Syria and 20 percent in Iraq since it rose to prominence in the summer of 2014. At the same time, the flow of foreign fighters to the caliphate has plummeted, from a peak of 2,000 crossing the Turkey-Syria border each month in late 2014 to as few as 50 today. Yet still there are people making the long and precarious 6,000-mile journey from Trinidad to Syria in an effort to live there. Just three days before the release of Dabiq 15, eight were detained in southern Turkey, attempting to cross into ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. All were female, and they included children.

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