Imam: Family members who went to Syria to join ISIS, not coming back

Monday, April 18, 2016 - 20:00

Five family members of Imam Nazim Mohammed who travelled last year to war-torn Syria, where the Isis terror group operates, will not be returning to Trinidad.

Confirmation came Monday from 74-year-old Mohammed whose daughter, son-in-law and three teenage grandchildren who journeyed to Syria in 2015 have now settled there.

Mohammed, the Imam of the Masjid Umar Ibn Khattab Jamaat, Rio Claro, was responding to Government’s move to “red flag” as potential threats to national security the families of local men and women who went to Syria to fight for Isis.

The T&T Guardian exclusively obtained documents with more than 105 names of men, woman and children who journeyed to Syria between 2013 and 2015. 

Five of the 105 are Mohammed’s relatives.

Several others on the “terrorist” list also lived in Rio Claro.

Yesterday, Mohammed, who denied he was an Isis recruiter, said he did not see his five family members as a threat to national security nor as terrorists.

Family migrated to join ISIS

He said they migrated to join the ISIS but could not say if they were now part of the radical group or were living normal lives.

He also withheld their identities and ages.

Of the three grandchildren, two are girls while the other is a boy.

“The meaning of terrorist is to terrorise. My daughter is not a terrorist. They have never hurt anyone. They are peaceful individuals. Politicians are the ones who are terrorising people in the world today,” he added.

Mohammed said his daughter and her family choose to go to Syria to serve the “Will of Allah. Everything happens by the will of God. Whatever happened is what He has already willed,” he said.

Questioned if they would be returning to Trinidad, Mohammed replied: “They are not coming back here. That is the decision they have made.”

If his daughter, son-in law or grandchildren are killed in a bomb blast or gunned down during their stay, Mohammed said he would not grieve over their deaths.

“I would say Al-ḥamdu lillāh... praise be to Allah,” he said.

Mohammed said he had no inkling his second daughter had planned to leave Trinidad.

“She (daughter) was a member of my masjid. She never told anyone in the mosque she was going there...not even me or her mother. 

“Just so one day I just received a phone call from her and she told me she was in Syria with her husband and three children. They went through Turkey. She made that choice,” he said.

No direct communication with family

In the several months the family has settled in Syria, Mohammed said he had no communication with the family members.

“I have been getting information indirectly about them. Only last month I heard they are alright. This was after months of not knowing if there were alive or dead. As a Muslim you are supposed to be happy anywhere.”

Asked what they were now doing in Syria, Mohammed could not say.

“I don’t know their programme,” he said.

Mohammed said while National Security Minister Edmund Dillon had “red flagged” terrorist families, he should focus on the crime situation which was out of control.

He said Government also needed to pay closer attention to the rising employment rate and economic downturn rather than Isis.

In 2009, Mohammed came under the radar when he was interviewed by FBI agents prior to the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain.

The agents wanted to know if Mohammed was a threat to US President Barack Obama during his visit to Trinidad.

Thereafter, his 28-year-old mosque became a target by police.

Source: (Shaliza Hassanali)