Will they Return? ISIS 5.0 in Trinidad and Tobago and its Impact on the U.S.

After last year’s fall of Raqqa in Syria, in which US backed forces declared that major military operations against the so called Islamic State has ended, the broader Middle East and the international community is asking themselves what happens next? It marks the end of a self-declared Islamic “Caliphate” in which its supporters and recruits converged on the geographical location of parts of Syria and Iraq and controlled territory, influence and power. Now disbanded into a network of now a ragtag insurgency movement with remnants still in the region and on the online space; it was once a location converging various ethnicities, nationalities and groups of people from all walks of life going after one agenda: an utopian Islamist Ummah. In those ranks included individuals from the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, a small nation off the coast of Venezuela.

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Why People Join Extremist Groups

An innate human desire is the wish to belong, to be a part of something bigger than life that makes sense of life itself. While some may look up to positive role models, others may explore spiritual teachings in active attempts to give meaning to life’s platitudes. Of the meaningfulness that is sought, the need to belong is the most important aspect of that search process. Extremist groups are able to capitalize on this need to belong while masquerading themselves, their members and even their ideology as the exclusive authority for the resurrection of abandoned principles. For those in need of relief and comfort, extremist groups may be the only alternative to perceived or imagined sufferings.

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Youth and Countering Violent Extremism

at risk youth

Initiatives in countering violent extremism (CVE) should evaluate the propensity of the youth to carry out the harmful actions glorified and glamorized by extremists. Active recruitment efforts by representatives and supporters of extremist groups ensnare the same youth undergoing the nascent stages of development as they grow up and experiment with banalities of life.

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