Sunday, December 11, 2016

"He has purpose."

Simon Cottee writes in The Atlantic about ISIS in Trinidad. Trinidad has the highest rate of Islamic State recruitment in the Western hemisphere.
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.

...attributes the growth of Salafism on the island to Saudi proselytizing. “They’ve spent money and brought in all these Wahhabi scholars from Mecca,” he told me when I visited him. “They’ve passed on the doctrine, then they’ve started to take the young males and send them to Mecca, and then they come back to Mecca and they continue, so now you don’t even need to send missionaries again.” The most visible sign of this infiltration, he said, is the full hijab: Before the Saudis’ missionaries came, Muslim women in Trinidad didn’t wear it, but now he said it’s relatively commonplace.

...When, in the summer of 1498, Christopher Columbus approached the shores of Trinidad, he would have been struck by the richness of the island, with its tropical climate, flowering vegetation, flashing birds, rivers and waterfalls. For more recent visitors, who reach the island by air, it is the richness of Trini culture, vividly exemplified in its annual carnival in February. To outsiders, Trinidad can look like a paradise. But for those many Trinis who are blighted by its high crime rate, rising unemployment, pockets of abject poverty and endemic corruption this proposition is routinely put to the test. This may explain why Islam, with its call to end corruption and oppression and to return to a simpler, more just society, appeals to so many of those from whom Trinidad’s myriad blessings are withheld. But this doesn’t get us any closer to understanding why so many Trinis have been captivated by the brutal and hallucinatory Islam of ISIS.

A more immediate question, and one that’s easier to answer, is how so many were able to leave Trinidad to join ISIS. The answer to this is that they were allowed to. Nobody was stopping them. In fact, this was state policy. It was state policy when the conflict first started in Syria, in 2011, and it is still state policy in late 2016. As Roodal Moonilal flatly explained to me, over a drink in the Hyatt in downtown Port of Spain, “ISIS is not proscribed in T&T, meaning that you can go and train with ISIS for 2-3 years and come back here with all the rights and privileges of a citizen of T&T.”

...“We have beautiful sunshine, we have oil and other natural resources, arable land, we have a blessed country,” Fuad Abu Bakr told me. But it evidently wasn’t enough for at-Trinidadi. A woman identifying herself as his mother told the Trinidad Express that, since he left, “His life is better. He has purpose.”​
Read more here.

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