Trinidad Muslims travel to Venezuela for jihadist training

Go Lean Commentary

BS 1The American War on Terror has come to the Caribbean. This is obvious with the news in the subsequenr news article. It is also obvious that with two member-states (Guyana & Trinidad) with large Islamic populations, their Muslim adherents may invariably side with some of their Middle Eastern brothers.

The United States of America is the Caribbean’s biggest trading partner and benefactor. But, the US has enemies. What’s more, many American activities enrage their enemies. Consider these known facts:

  • Unmanned Drone attacks in Pakistan/Afghanistan, with collateral damage of innocent women/children.
  • NSA spying on its own citizens, and those of foreign lands in their home country, including the Caribbean; (this was disclosed last week by NSA Leaker Edward Snowden – see
  • American “Vulture” Capitalism – painfully exploiting natural resources at the expense of indigenous people

American foreign policy is determined by the US government (White House & Congress). The needs of our small Caribbean states may not factor in US policy determinations. Even the US territories (Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands) have little voice and no vote in the formation of policy. The Caribbean finds itself in the same role as the words (sang by Michael Jackson) of the Scarecrow in the 1977 movie The Wiz:

We can’t win,
We can’t break-even, and …
We can’t get out of the game.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean posits that we must maintain our own security apparatus against systemic threats, like terrorism, that can imperil our way of life. This goal is detailed in the book, serving as a roadmap for the introduction of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The book contends that bad actors will emerge just as a result of economic successes in the region. Combine further, the alignments with the US, and we have to be prepared for even more “enemies at the gate”. The other European nations with Caribbean territories (Britain, France, and The Netherlands) also have to contend with terrorism activities. This point is pronounced early in the book with the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13), and these claims:

x.   Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. The Federation must employ the latest advances and best practices … to assuage continuous threats against public safety.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes, including piracy and other forms of terrorism, can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

Appointing “new guards” to ensure our public safety is not so new of an endeavor. This effort has commenced already. There is currently a security pact of 7 Eastern Caribbean member-states that was first consummated in 1982 – see the Regional Security System below. The roadmap calls for the expansion and professionalization of this security pact for all 30 member-states. It will be the responsibility of the CU to lead, fund and facilitate this pact.

Creating the CU security apparatus is “Step One, Day One” in the Go Lean roadmap. This implementation, with the appropriate funding mechanisms, is essential for success. In line with the foregoing news article, there is the absolute need for a Unified Command-and-Control (UCC), including intelligence gathering and analysis, to monitor and mitigate threats against the region.

By Caribbean News Now contributor

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Cellphone images seized by SEBIN, Venezuela’s intelligence service, allegedly show Trinidadian Muslims arrested in Venezuela engaging in what SEBIN described as “pre-jihad training” on a firing range using high-powered weapons, the Trinidad Express reported.

The images were reportedly extracted from the cellphones seized from some of the Muslims in a group that travelled to Venezuela from Trinidad and were later arrested in a raid at the Plaza Hotel in Caracas on March 19, together with women and children, who were later released.

The training resembled what takes place in the Middle East as Muslims prepare for what they term jihad, or holy war, an important religious duty for Muslims that includes armed struggle against persecution and oppression.

Intense military, arms and ammunition training is part and parcel of their routine and some of this kind of training, SEBIN alleged, was taking place in Venezuela by some of the Trinidadian Muslims.

In a top secret document prepared by SEBIN and sent to the Trinidad and Tobago government, the pictures in question were taken by three Venezuelan police officers who were later arrested. There are at least six photographs showing the men.

Eight Trinidadian Muslims are currently detained by Venezuelan authorities on suspicion of terrorist activities. The 14 women and children who were held with them at the Plaza Hotel in Caracas on March 19 were released some ten days later and sent back to Trinidad.

This followed a visit of a Trinidad and Tobago delegation headed by Rear Admiral Richard Kelshall who met with Venezuelan authorities two days prior to their release.

Out of that meeting emanated the top secret document given to the Trinidad and Tobago government, which the Trinidad Express reported exposes some alarming security concerns that the country’s security forces need to monitor closely.

The document outlines in detail the day the Trinidadian Muslims were held at the Plaza Hotel in Caracas and revelations about possible terrorist activities that can have far reaching consequences for Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister of National Security Gary Griffith spoke about the document in late April.

“A secret document has been given to me through the delegation from the Venezuelan authorities and this is obviously a sensitive document and I would not be able to actually state what is in the document, it is sensitive correspondence,” Griffith said.

In the top secret document, there are dates of the arrivals for all the Trinidadians who touched down at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Venezuela between January and March this year.

The raid on the Trinidadian Muslims at the Plaza Hotel, authorities said, was brought to the attention of SEBIN “after a prolonged stay at the hotel” and the use of “cash to cover their bills”.

Further suspicion arose, SEBIN stated, when members of the group were reclusive, as more persons continued to arrive and bills continued “to be paid exclusively in cash”.

Cleaning staff at the hotel were even barred from entering the rooms, the report revealed.

SEBIN’s suspicion was compounded further as they “implemented surveillance on the group and observed that Dominic Pitilal [one of the group] was routinely changing large sums of US” currency.

BS #3It was then SEBIN decided to make their move, executing a search warrant in the rooms occupied by “Pitilal and associates” and reportedly discovered: two satellite phones, 20 mobile phones, two laptops, six tablets, army type uniforms, combat paraphernalia, firearm training paraphernalia, telephone video of several of the detained persons in firearms training in Caracas.

According to the Trinidad Express, the accusation of jihad is only the beginning of something more profoundly troubling.

Sources within the Muslim community in Trinidad told the Express they have received information about Trinidadian Muslims fighting in the Syrian civil war as part of the anti-Assad movement.

Sources said every individual is paid US$150,000 to come to Syria and fight.

The subject is rarely discussed in certain Muslim circles in Trinidad, some fearing if they say anything, their lives might be in jeopardy. It is also a case that Muslim women know about, but are not willing to inform on friends or family members.

Well-placed Muslim sources who met and spoke with the Express in the last few weeks on the condition of anonymity say some of the women and children who were detained in Venezuela were in transit to Syria.

Three well-placed sources say people had confided in them about how the operation would go down.

One said, “What they do is buy plane tickets showing travel from Venezuela to China in transit through Turkey. When the plane stops there they get off and cross the border into Syria, but many would be thinking they have gone on to China as the ticket states.”

Another indicated that a named Trinidadian Muslim now in Syria has been in contact with family members in Trinidad and is also in constant contact with another local Muslim man.

Intelligence sources said they have been monitoring the movements of certain people, but would not commit to a solid answer.

When asked about Trinidadians using Venezuela as a stepping stone to head to Syria to fight in the jihad, Griffith said, “We most definitely have intelligence of all matters of national security but pertaining to that quite obviously, I would not be able to actually state what intelligence that we have for obvious reasons.”

In the last three weeks, the UK Guardian has carried stories about Muslim men leaving the United Kingdom to fight the war in Syria with young women also trying to follow. When they return to their countries they could be a serious security risk and the Anti-Terrorism Unit in Britain is closely monitoring the situation.

CNN in a recent report online entitled “West’s biggest threat: Battle hardened homegrown terrorists”, warned about American Muslims leaving to fight in Syria and returning as a potential threat to the US.

Intelligence sources in Trinidad also said they are fearful that some of those fighting in Syria will return to Trinidad with the radical ability to carry out violent acts there.

In fact, SEBIN in its secret report made specific recommendations to Trinidad’s national security ministry indicating it should pay closer attention to particular mosques.

Concerns outlined in the report also included:

• The increase of illegal diesel trafficking.

• Increase of the volume and flow of narco-trafficking and arms and ammunition trafficking.

• Increase of persons from the Middle East entering and transiting Venezuela onward to Trinidad.

SEBIN also revealed to the Trinidad and Tobago government that “British and US sources have expressed through official channels that there is an uneasiness relative to chatter emanating from Trinidad and Tobago at this time.”

Griffith said, “When we get types of intelligence that can be perceived as individuals being enemies of the state or trying to have any plan to overthrow the government, or any democracy as we know it, we would have that pre-emptive strike. We would be aware of what is happening and we would ensure that we do it to them before they do it to us.”

Attempts to assess the level of US concern in relation to the security of the Caribbean generally – a region that is variously described as America’s “third border” and America’s “backyard” – by means of official comment have largely proven to be fruitless.

There has been the so-called Third Border Initiative (now apparently moribund) and the more recent Caribbean Basin Security Initiative but the latter has largely focused on maritime interdiction of drug traffickers while seemingly ignoring the fact that the vacuum left by US financial and political inattention has been quickly filled by the Chinese (economically), Venezuela (politically and economically) also acting as a proxy for Iran, and more recently by the Russians for their own reasons.

Apart from the fact that questionable individuals from these and other countries are using the economic citizenship programs of many of the small Caribbean countries to obscure their real nationality and background, there is the concern expressed by intelligence sources in Trinidad that some of their nationals fighting in Syria will return with the radical ability to carry out violent acts in that country – i.e. part of America’s “third border”.

The so far unanswered questions posed to various US House and Senate committees that ought to have an interest in this area have tried to address the apparent inattention to the situation in the region itself, thus allowing hostile elements virtual freedom of movement in an area up to the actual border when, with a fairly modest effort in the overall scheme of things, the situation could be dealt with much more effectively.

With all the ex post facto hand-wringing over events in Benghazi, an increased level of congressional interest and concern in working to prevent other potential problems closer to home might have been expected but is apparently thus far non-existent.

Caribbean News Now (Posted May 13, 2014; retrieved 05/29/2014) –

The Go Lean book details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to provide increased public safety & security in the Caribbean region:

Community Ethos – Privacy –vs- Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Intelligence Gathering Page 23
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Strategy – Security Pact to defend the homeland Page 45
Tactical – Confederating a non-sovereign union Page 63
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Homeland Security Page 75
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Start-up Foreign Policy Initiatives Page 102
Implementation – Start-up Security Initiatives Page 103
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Mitigate Terrorism Page 181
Advocacy – Improve Intelligence Gathering/Analysis Page 182
Advocacy – Improve for Natural Disasters Page 184

Paramount to the prime directive of elevating the economics, security and governing engines of the region is the desire to make the Caribbean, a better place to live, work and play. This has been the hope for generations. Finally now, the CU is here to traverse this journey. All of the Caribbean institutions are hereby urged to lean-in to this roadmap, or better stated, to Go Lean.

Download the Book – Go Lean…Caribbean – Now!!!

Appendix – Regional Security System

(Retrieved 05/29/2014 from:

The Regional Security System (RSS) is an international agreement for the defence and security of the eastern Caribbean region. The Regional Security System was created out of a need for collective response to security threats, which were impacting on the stability of the region in the late 1970s and early 1980s. On 29 October 1982 four members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States—namely, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines—signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Barbados to provide for “mutual assistance on request”. The signatories agreed to prepare contingency plans and assist one another, on request, in national emergencies, prevention of smuggling, search and rescue, immigration control, fishery protection, customs and excise control, maritime policing duties, protection of off-shore installations, pollution control, national and other disasters and threats to national security.[1] CU Blog - Trinidad Muslims travel to Venezuela for jihadist training - Photo 2Saint Kitts and Nevis joined following independence in 1983, and Grenada followed two years later after Operation Urgent Fury, a combined U.S. and RSS invasion of the country. The MOU was updated in 1992 and the system acquired juridical status on 5 March 1996 under the Treaty which was signed at St. Georges, Grenada.

The RSS initially started as a U.S. instrument to combat the spread of Communism in the Caribbean region.[2][3] As of 2001, the RSS further cooperates with the CARICOM Regional Task Force on Crime and Security (CRTFCS).[4]

In June 2010, United States and Caribbean regional officials resumed a plan for close cooperation established under the former Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean (PPS) from the Clinton era.[5] As part of the joint agreement the United States pledged assistance with the creation of an Eastern Caribbean Coast Guard unit among RSS countries.[6] The Coast Guard unit will underpin the wider US-Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) which has deemed the RSS as “central to the CBSI’s success, given its reach across the Eastern Caribbean.”[6]

Subsequently, Canada also pledged collaboration with the RSS bloc.[7][8] to combat a threat of Central American criminal gangs from expanding into the English-speaking Caribbean region.[9]

The current member nations are:

Antigua and Barbuda (since 1982)
Barbados (since 1982)
Dominica (since 1982)
Grenada (since 1985)
Saint Kitts and Nevis (since 1983)
Saint Lucia (since 1982)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (since 1982)


Operation name



1983 Grenada Intervention Grenada Restore a government in Grenada
1989 Hugo Antigua, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis Assistance in aftermath of Hurricane Hugo
1990 Coup Trinidad and Tobago Aftermath of an attempted Coup d’état in Trinidad and Tobago
1994 Internal Security Saint Kitts and Nevis Prison riot
1995 Luis, Marilyn Antigua and Saint Kitts and Nevis Assistance in aftermath of Hurricane Luis and Hurricane Marilyn
1998 Georges Saint Kitts and Nevis Assistance in aftermath of Hurricane Georges
1998 Weedeater Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Eradication of cannabis
2003 Bordelais Saint Lucia Transfer prisoners to new prison facility
2004 Ivan Relief Efforts Grenada Assistance in aftermath of Hurricane Ivan
2006 Glendairy Barbados Prison uprising
2009 Operation VINCYPAC St Vincent and the Grenadines Eradication of Cannabis
2010 Haiti Haiti Assistance in aftermath of the Haiti 2010 Earthquake

Sources References:

  1. “APPROACHES ON SECURITY IN THE CARIBBEAN REGION: Statement by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael of Guyana at the Meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security of the OAS Washington DC, 29 October 2002”. Retrieved 17 December 2012 from:
  3. Lewis, Patsy (2002). Surviving Small Size: Regional Integration in Caribbean Mini-states. Kingston, Jamaica: University of West Indies Press. ISBN 976-640-116-0.
  4. Regional Task Force, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS). Retrieved from:
  5. Singh, Rickey (13 June 2010). “A USA-CARIBBEAN ‘RENEWAL’?”. Guyana Chronicle. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  6. “CARIBBEAN SECURITY: United States to help upgrade Regional Security System”. Caribbean News Agency (CANA). Retrieved 17 September 2010 from:
  7. “Security important to Canada”. The Barbados Today. Retrieved 17 September 2010 from:
  8. “Canada to boost help to region”. Nation Newspaper. Retrieved 5 July 2010 from:
  9. H., J. (17 September 2010). “Region warned of displaced criminal elements”. The Barbados Advocate. Retrieved 17 September 2010 from:
Share this post:
, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *