PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – At least "several" citizens of Trinidad & Tobago have traveled overseas to aid militants including the group known as the Islamic State, the national security minister of the Caribbean nation said Wednesday.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said the government has learned of the involvement of its citizens in overseas militant activity from foreign intelligence agencies that he did not identify.
Some of the country's citizens taking part are fighters and others are providing logistical and financial support, Griffith said in an interview.
"There are those who are sympathizers, those who are providing financial support for the cause, those who are working in passport and immigration and lending other forms of assistance," he said.
He declined to say how many people there are, beyond "several," but said the government is concerned about the potential for a security threat in the future.
"What we are concerned about now, and a decision has to be made on this by the National Security Council, is how we deal with such persons who have gone to the Middle East and now want to return here," Griffith told The Associated Press.
The country of 1.2 million people has a small Muslim minority, about 5 percent of the population, and community leaders have condemned the providing of any assistance to the Islamic State group.
In July 1990, a militant Islamic group stormed Parliament in an attempted coup and took the prime minister and his Cabinet hostage. The coup attempt by Yasin Abu Bakr and 113 members of his Jamaat al Muslimeen group resulted in the deaths of 24 people, most during looting that erupted in the capital of Port-of-Spain.
Another Trinidad man, Kareem Ibrahim, was convicted in May 2011 in the U.S. of participating in a failed plot to blow up jet fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Authorities said the planned attack was meant to avenge what the plotters perceived U.S. oppression of Muslims around the world.