KINGSTON, Jamaica – A Jamaican teenager has been detained in the South American country of Suriname on suspicion of being a would-be militant hoping to join Islamic extremists.
In a statement, Suriname's police force said the 16-year-old was denied entry after arriving at the country's main airport on a Saturday flight. The teen, whose identity was not disclosed, was apparently trying to fly to the Netherlands and then to Turkey.
An intelligence agency Suriname police did not identify informed them that the Jamaican apparently intended to slip into Syria to join Islamic State militants. After being questioned and obtaining background information on the youth, he was flown back to Jamaica.
Jamaica's national security ministry did not provide comment Sunday. Last month, the ministry insisted there was "no evidence" of Jamaicans joining the Islamic State group or other terrorist groups a few days after a U.S. general identified the island as one of the Caribbean nations that have produced roughly 100 would-be militants fighting with Islamic extremists in Syria.
Gen. John Kelly, who heads the U.S. Southern Command, has said Iran and Islamic extremist groups were doing a "fair amount" of recruiting in the region, and said some people have become radicalized through the Internet and others through radical mosques. He listed Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and Venezuela as regional countries where officials believe recruits have departed for Syria.
Overall, the Caribbean is apparently a small source of foreign fighters. A recent U.N. report said the number of fighters leaving home to join al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has spiked to more than 25,000 from over 100 nations. The report mentioned an increase in fighters from countries including Trinidad, where a ragtag group of Muslim militants attempted to overthrow the government in 1990.
During President Barack Obama's trip to Jamaica last week to meet with Caribbean Community leaders, Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar issued a statement saying she was "very concerned of the threat of terrorism" for her country and for the region.
David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd