Trinidad and Tobago is a small, oil rich island nation located off the coast of Venezuela that, according to the New York Times and Trinidadian Officials, has contributed the greatest number of recruits and foreign fighters to ISIS per capita in the Western Hemisphere.
Trinidad has a population of 1.3 million people. Unfortunately, the region has been a breeding ground for criminal gangs and drug trafficking operations for decades. More recently, radical Islamic movements have also started to emerge here. The Associated Press has reported that up to 130 jihadists and their relatives have traveled from this small Caribbean island nation to join ISIS in Syria and the Middle East.
Our US partners on the ground are working to counter these violent extremists and criminal organizations and help bring peace and stability by influencing target audiences most vulnerable to radicalization.
Today, our US partners are working with a local nonprofit, Vision on Mission (VoM), the Trinidad Defense Forces, and the Ministry of Defense to bring development and stability into the region. VoM is dedicated to rehabilitating delinquent youth, socially marginalized persons, ex-inmates, and deportees back into society through outreach programs and education. However, VoM lacks the audio-visual equipment necessary to properly address classes that regularly number in excess of a hundred students.
New equipment such as a video projector, speakers, and a public address system will enable our US partners and their VoM counterparts to reach their objective: positively influencing vulnerable students and prison populations through their various courses and outreach initiatives.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Trinidad with our COO, Isaac Eagan. This was my first time in the small island nation, located just a few miles off the northeast coast of Venezuela. I thought I would be visiting a relaxed island paradise, but to my surprise I found that alongside amazing hospitality and … Continued