Small Wars Journal

What a Small ISIS Cell in Trinidad is Teaching SOUTHCOM

What a Small ISIS Cell in Trinidad is Teaching SOUTHCOM by Caroline Houck - Defense One

Earlier this year, working with its partners on the ground, the U.S. military disrupted an alleged ISIS-inspired attack that would have targeted a festival — in Trinidad and Tobago.

The raid grabbed headlines immediately afterward. But it — and U.S. Southern Command’s ongoing efforts to help the Trinidad security forces develop counter-extremism capabilities — offer lessons about how to confront radicalism at home and abroad, SOUTHCOM’s commander Adm. Kurt Tidd said Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago had little experience with violent extremism until it became the nation with the largest per-capita ISIS population in the Western Hemisphere. Even just a year ago, Tidd described the Caribbean cell as more aspirational than active. It’s a valuable case study as the Pentagon grapples with a post-caliphate Islamic State and the group’s metastasizing spread.   

Some of the lessons SOUTHCOM is learning have nothing to do with military or law enforcement’s role in tracking and preventing extremist activity. After the raid, for example, the Trinidad government struggled to prosecute the alleged perpetrators because the country’s laws hadn’t caught up with the new threat…

Read on.