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Trinidadian ISIS fighters captured in Turkey, newspaper reports
The Trinidadian man who was convicted in the United States for conspiring to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines under the John F Kennedy International Airport has died of heart failure at a prison medical facility.
Kareem Ibrahim passed away at the US Medical Centre for Federal Prisoners in Missouri, just after 10 a.m. yesterday. He was 70.
After a four-week trial, Ibrahim was convicted in May 2011 for conspiring with three Guyanese nationals to carry out a terrorist attack at the JFK International Airport in Queens, New York. He was sentenced the following year to life in prison.
The evidence at the trial established that Ibrahim, an imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad, provided religious instructions and operational support to a group plotting to carry out the attack.
Attorney-at-law Farid Scoon, who represented him in his extradition case in Trinidad, maintained his client’s innocence and said that his body “never took to incarceration”, according to Demerara Waves.
“It is unfortunate that an innocent man was convicted of a crime that he had absolutely no guilt [for] and had to spend the last winters of his life in a maximum security prison in the United States,” Scoon was quoted as saying.
He said arrangements were being made for Ibrahim’s body to be flown back to Trinidad for burial.
Just over a month ago, Ibrahim became the first person to be officially declared a terrorist by the Trinidad and Tobago government.
Justice Nadia Kangaloo ruled that there was sufficient evidence to deem him a terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Act, and gave the government the go-ahead to begin the process of freezing any of his assets which it found.
The application was the first ever filed and granted under the legislation.
US army general concerned about potential ISIS attacks in Caribbean
Four Trinidadians fighting with Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS or ISIL) were caught by Turkish security forces last year, according to a report in a Turkish newspaper.
Hürriyet Daily News yesterday published an article in which it reported that the Turkey government last month released a list of 913 foreign jihadists from 57 countries who had been caught in Turkey in the first 11 months of 2015, and its sources had indicated that four Trinidad and Tobago citizens were among them.
No other Caribbean country was mentioned.
Earlier this month, Commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) General John Kelly said that about 100 Islamic extremists left the Caribbean to join ISIS fighters in the Middle East last year and the number had risen to about 150 this year.
He expressed concern about those citizens returning to the region and carrying out terrorist attacks.
Meantime, according to the Hürriyet, China tops the list with 324 citizens caught in Turkey fighting for ISIL. There were 99 foreign fighters with Russian passports, 83 Palestinians, 63 fighters from Turkmenistan, 57 from Afghanistan, 44 from Indonesia, 19 from Germany and the United Kingdom each, 18 from France, six from South Korea, five from Australia, and two from the Maldives.
Two American citizens were among those caught, as well as fighters carrying Syrian passports, it added.
The newspaper reported that most ISIL fighters attempting to cross into Syria through Turkey claimed they were simply trying to look for their relatives.
It added that some of the fighters crossing into Turkey from the Syrian side of the border said they had fled ISIL oppression, while others said they had been given bomb training at ISIL camps in Syria and were planning to conduct attacks inside Turkey.
A top army general in the United States is worried that a few Islamic extremists in the Caribbean could carry out terrorist acts in the region.
Commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) General John Kelly said about 100 Islamic extremists left the Caribbean region to join Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in the Middle East last year – some of whom were killed – and the number had risen to about 150 this year.
However, his worry is less about the impact those Caribbean nationals have on the ISIS fight overseas and more about what they can do in their homelands.
“I am more concerned particularly now it seems like the Islamic extremists and terrorists have shifted a lot of their message, and that is, ‘hey, rather than come to Syria, why don’t you stay at home and do San Bernardino, or do Boston, or do Fort Hood’,” he said, referring to incidents of terrorist attacks in the US.
“My concern as the SOUTHCOM commander, is . . . even just a few of these, you know, nuts can cause an awful lot of trouble down in the Caribbean because they don’t have an FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], they don’t have law enforcement like we do. They don’t have TSA [Transportation Security Administration]. They don’t really have the same kinds of things at the airports that we do, in terms of checking the comings and goings of people . . . And many of these countries have very, very small militaries, if they have militaries at all,” Kelly told journalists at a Department of Defense Press Briefing at the Pentagon on Friday.
The army general said the US was therefore trying its best to help those countries, like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.
“We work with them and give as much information as we can,” he said.