by Bert Wilkinson
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
Of all the leaders in the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc, Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad would appear to have an obsession with terrorist organizations in the Middle East and their impact on the rest of the world, vulnerable youth in particular.
As head of government of Trinidad, at least until general elections, which are expected soon, she is the leader in the bloc with responsibility for matters such as energy and security, so it was no surprise that she led off discussions on the issues when regional leaders met with a visiting President Barack Obama in Jamaica last week.
But just a few days after the third summit meeting between Obama and bloc leaders ended in Jamaica, police in Suriname reported Sunday that they had barred a Jamaican youth from entering the country because they had credible intelligence he was transiting the country to Turkey via a nonstop flight from Suriname to the Netherlands.
The unidentified 16-year-old youth was reportedly on his way to link up with the Islamic State group, the terrorist organization that says it is fighting to drive the West from the Middle East and its affairs once and for all. The West, on the other hand argues, that Islamic State wants to spread and impose Sharia law on a region that needs to democratize and create opportunities for women and others.
A statement from the Surinamese police administration said that the teenager had arrived on a flight at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport and was planning to fly to Turkey by way of connections in Amsterdam.
“He was denied entry to Suriname because we received information from a regional intelligence service that he wanted to join ISIS,” the statement said, boasting that his entry denial “sends a clear signal that Suriname is doing everything so the region does not become involved in terrorism.”
It praised the level of intelligence cooperation between Jamaican police, regional intelligence systems and sleuths in Suriname, noting that, in the end, the country’s attorney general, military police and other security agencies made the decision to repatriate the youth back to Jamaica on the next available flight. The country’s national security minister and other officials have yet to respond to the latest developments. The ministry had denied knowledge of any Jamaicans lining up to join Islamic State and related terror networks.
The Miami, Fla.-based U.S. Southern Military Command had only recently warned regional governments that it had suspected approximately 100 nationals from several Caricom countries and northern South America of enlisting and now planning to return to the region, where they could pose new security threats.
It is known that several mostly Afro-Muslim converts in Trinidad have already left from the Middle East. Their stories were widely reported in local media earlier this year.