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.