at-Trinidadi ’s story is featured in the July edition of Dabiq, Isis’ online magazine being published since 2014. It is aimed at recruitment, unitarianism, truth-seeking, migration and holy war among matters.
The July edition, issued last weekend and obtained by T&T Guardian last Sunday, is based on the theme “Break the Cross.” It features Christian converts, including at-Trinidadi, from the US, Canada, Finland and Jamaica who have called for supporters to destroy “Christian disbelievers.”
Following last week’s issue of the magazine, news broke of nine suspected T&T nationals detained in Turkey en route to join Isis.
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said yesterday Government was probing both that issue as well as the Dabiq report. Dillon spoke to the T&T Guardian after a meeting with law enforcement heads as well as international officials.
Intelligence agencies are tracking the descriptions in the article against information on those individuals known to have gone to Syria over 2011-2016.
The Dabiq article has now been featured widely on French, German, European and UK agencies, US sites and global anti-terrorism watch groups and western media.
The Isis warning follows recent terrorist attacks in Europe, including the killing of a French priest last week by two teenage Isis sympathisers. In the Dabiq article, T&T foreign fighter (FTF) At-Trinidadi claimed to be a former Christian convert to Islam who was “…now one of a large number of mujahidin from T&T” with Isis.
The article features pictures of other T&T nationals with Isis, including former Cunupia resident Shane Crawford, one of the T&T nationals who has been positively identified as joining Isis and South Trinidad Islamic scholar Ashmead Choate, whom at-Trinidadi credits with furthering his path to jihad. Claiming to be a sniper, at-Trinidadi said he was involved in crime before leaving T&T and was accused of being among those plotting to kill former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
He claimed he and two T&T colleagues —Abu ‘Abdillah and Abu ‘Isa—were the first three Muslims to join Isis. He said the other two have since been killed. He claimed about 60 per cent “of the mujahidin from Trinidad” come from Muslim families with the remaining 40 per cent being converts.
In the article, at-Trinidadi sent a message to “the Muslims of Trinidad.” He said the first part of his message was “to those who claim Islam and yet blindly follow the muftis and imams….” He asked them to return to the “true” religion. He called on others to “perform hijrah to the land of Islam… You wanted your children to live in a land where Allah’s law is the highest, yet you now remain in a place where you have no honour…”
He added: “I also say to you my brothers, you now have a golden opportunity to do something that many of us here wish we could do right now. You have the ability to terrify the disbelievers in their own homes and make their streets run with their blood… They are bombing your brothers and sisters day and night in the land where Allah’s law is supreme. “It is an obligation upon you to act and force them to think thrice before bombing the Muslims. Therefore, terrorise the disbelievers and make them feel fear everywhere, even in their own bedrooms. Due to their mere disbelief, their blood by default is lawful to spill.”
The message emphasised the Isis leadership’s insistence “not to differentiate between disbelieving soldiers and their so-called “civilians.”
At-Trinidadi continued: “Attack the interests of the Crusader coalition near you, including their embassies, businesses and civilians. Burn down their government institutions just as they try to bomb our buildings where Allah’s law is upheld. “Follow the example of the lions in France and Belgium, the example of the blessed couple in California and the examples of the knights in Orlando and Nice…
“… If, however, you abandon your brothers while continuing to live in the shade of an enemy at war with Islam, within a petty distance from many Crusader interests, then do not be shocked if Allah strips you of the speck of faith remaining in your dying hearts, as a punishment for your sin and insincerity.” At-Trinidadi sent a message to Christians to follow Muhammad. “If you refuse, then the only thing between you and us is the sword.”
‘Committed murder in TT’
On how he found his way to jihadism, he said: “There was a faction of Muslims in Trinidad known for ‘militancy.’ Its members attempted to overthrow the disbelieving government but quickly surrendered, apostatised and participated in the religion of democracy, demonstrating they weren’t upon the correct methodology of jihad.
“In my case, like so many others, the da’wah to jihad took hold of me through the lectures of Shaykh Anwar al-‘Awlaqi. After listening to his various lectures repeatedly, I gained a firmer understanding of what we as Muslims were supposed to be doing…”
He said South Trinidad Islamic scholar Ashmead Choate, who went to Syria between 2012 and 2013, furthered his path to jihad.
“…Shaykh Ashmead Choate, he had studied hadith and graduated from one of the Islamic colleges in the Middle East. He made hijrah to the Islamic State and attained martyrdom (killed) fighting in Ramadi.”
At-Trinidadi said he and his two friends decided to join Isis “but we had some unfinished business with some disbelievers who had wronged the Muslims in the community. Our tickets were already booked, and we were ready to depart within a week but we felt guilty leaving without finishing what needed to be taken care of. We decided to delay our hijrah and there soon came an opportunity to exact revenge on the two kafir criminals we were hunting.
“The operation was carried out in the middle of the city in broad daylight and was caught on camera. It wasn’t our plan for it to occur that way but it happened. Following the operation, Abu ‘Abdillah and Abu ‘Isa were arrested, and I went into hiding.
“We decided we had to leave Trinidad nonetheless…Abu ‘Isa was released pending investigation. Abu ‘Abdillah was also released. We left Trinidad one by one. I left first along with my wife, followed by Abu ‘Abdillah, then Abu ‘Isa. We met up in Venezuela.”
Arrested in T&T
He added: “Abu ‘Abdillah, my wife and I were arrested at one point but the police were not able to make a case against us. We were nonetheless charged for possessing guns and ammunition. They seized my computer and phones and found the videos, books and lectures on jihad. The taghut government of Trinidad then plotted against us, claiming that we were planning on assassinating the prime minister and a number of other ministers in order to cause chaos and panic in the country.
“That would have been an honour for us to attempt but the reality of our operations was much smaller. We were imprisoned for terrorism along with some Muslims who merely knew us, as well as others whom we had never even met before…They were unable to make a case against us and we were freed… despite being placed under surveillance, we went back to doing what we knew we had to do.”
He was referring to the state of emergency called by the then People’s Partnership government in 2011 when several suspects were rounded up and imprisoned on charges of plotting to kill then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, only to be released months later when the State could not produce sufficient evidence to prove their cases.
At-Trinidadi said the hardest thing in being with Isis was losing many close friends. He said colleague Abu ‘Isa was killed in Marista while Abu ‘Abdillah was killed in the Aleppo countryside during his time with Isis.
He said another TT national, Abu Samir, was shot and had to leave for medical treatment.