Title

The calypso caliphate: how Trinidad became a recruiting ground for ISIS

Date of Publication

2019 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Violent Extremism

Keywords

srhreports, violentextremism, country-trinidadandtobago, Trinidad and Tobago, foreign fighterradicalization, ISIS, Syria, Iraq, social networks

Description

Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), a small twin-island republic in the Caribbean, has one of the highest rates of foreign fighter radicalization in the western hemisphere. According to official estimates, around 130 Trinidadian nationals migrated to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq between 2013 and 2016. This article seeks to make sense of these migrations, placing them in the broader historical and social context in which they occurred. Drawing on a range of quantitative and qualitative primary source material, the article finds, contrary to expectation, that the archetypal adult ISIS traveler from T&T is not a marginalized, youthful and mostly male city dweller who radicalized outside of a mosque, but is in fact as likely to be female, in his or her mid-30s, married, have children, attend a mosque, live in a rural area, and have suffered neither the pains of economic hardship nor the ill effects of marginalization from the wider society because of his or her Muslim identity. As well as emphasizing the intersection between the local and the global in jihadist foreign traveler mobilization, the article also demonstrates the importance of personal connections in the migrations of Trinidadians to Syria and Iraq, lending further support to research on the centrality of social networks in facilitating radicalization and foreign fighter mobilization.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

The calypso caliphate: how Trinidad became a recruiting ground for ISIS

Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), a small twin-island republic in the Caribbean, has one of the highest rates of foreign fighter radicalization in the western hemisphere. According to official estimates, around 130 Trinidadian nationals migrated to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq between 2013 and 2016. This article seeks to make sense of these migrations, placing them in the broader historical and social context in which they occurred. Drawing on a range of quantitative and qualitative primary source material, the article finds, contrary to expectation, that the archetypal adult ISIS traveler from T&T is not a marginalized, youthful and mostly male city dweller who radicalized outside of a mosque, but is in fact as likely to be female, in his or her mid-30s, married, have children, attend a mosque, live in a rural area, and have suffered neither the pains of economic hardship nor the ill effects of marginalization from the wider society because of his or her Muslim identity. As well as emphasizing the intersection between the local and the global in jihadist foreign traveler mobilization, the article also demonstrates the importance of personal connections in the migrations of Trinidadians to Syria and Iraq, lending further support to research on the centrality of social networks in facilitating radicalization and foreign fighter mobilization.