Authorities in Trinidad and Tobago are taking steps to stop young Muslims from leaving the country to join terrorist groups, highlighting the ongoing struggle the country faces in preventing its youth from joining organizations dedicated to violence.
Officials from the Caribbean country believe as many as 125 fighters have traveled to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State over the past four years, reported The New York Times.
The figure makes Trinidad and Tobago, a country of 1.3 million people, the largest per-capita hub of I.S. recruits in the Western Hemisphere.
American authorities are concerned that the country may turn into a hotbed for extremists, who could return from the Middle East and attack American citizens in Trinidad, or even possibly reach the United States via Miami, only a three-and-a-half-hour flight away.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently spoke with Trinidadian Prime Minister Keith Rowley about terrorism and security threats, a White House spokesperson told The Times.
In contrast to the laws of many other countries, I.S. is not legally proscribed in Trinidad and Tobago. This means Trinidadians can travel and train with I.S. fighters and then return to Trinidad and still enjoy the rights and privileges of any other fellow citizen.
Yet the government is reportedly implementing tougher anti-terrorism measures. Authorities have increased surveillance and monitoring of the country’s Islamist movements, while officials have proposed a law to prosecute those sending money to I.S. fighters overseas.
At the same time, U.S. authorities have been sharing intelligence with Trinidad’s government, hoping to crack down on potential new recruits.