Trinidad and Tobago: An inquiry on how a peaceful and multi-religious country became one of the largest basins for Daesh recruitment in the Western Hemisphere

By Emanuel Pietrobon

Trinidad and Tobago is an insular state of Caribbean America, a nation that, along with Suriname and Guyana, possesses a historical tradition of religious pluralism that includes a substantial Islamic community. A 2011 census of the population describes a multi-faith panorama composed of Catholics (21.6%), Hindus (18.2%), Pentecostals (12.0%), Anglicans (5.7%), Baptists (5.7), Muslims (5%), and a number of other faith groups.

Although Islam is the smallest among the majoritarian beliefs, it has played and plays an important role in society. Several celebrities, public figures, politicians, and thinkers are known to be practicing Muslims; among them are the philosopher Imran Hosein and the former president Noor Hassanali, the “first Muslim head of state in the Americas.”

Trinidad and Tobago is the only country in the continent with a history of political and militant Islam. The country also represents a unique paradigm in Latin America, as it has become the largest Daesh recruitment basin in the region, presenting “one of the highest per capita rates of foreign fighters in the world” of the Western Hemisphere: 36 foreign fighters per capita and 616 foreign fighters per capita of Muslims joined Daesh.

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