16-y-o J'can held in Suriname, believed headed to join ISIS terror group
A month after National Security Minister Peter Bunting dismissed reports that Jamaican nationals have been among recruits to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reports out of Suriname indicate that a 16-year-old boy from the island was refused entry on Saturday on suspicion that he was travelling to join the terrorist group.
Last night, local electronic media stated that the Police High Command confirmed that the teenager had been sent back to Jamaica and indicated it would speak more to the matter at a later date.
The Gleaner understands that the teenager from St Mary was put on the next immediate flight back to Kingston after he arrived at the Johan Pengel Airport in the Suriname capital, Paramiribo, on Saturday from Jamaica. Police say the teenager had intended to travel to The Netherlands and from there to Turkey.
However, in an interview on CVm television, family members said the boy was going to visit his grandmother in The Netherlands and has been traumatised by the treatment he received in Suriname.
According to CANA news reports, the boy was interrogated, and when additional information was received from Jamaica, the decision was made to send him back home.
The decision was made by Suriname's police chief, the attorney general, and management of the military police, which manages immigration services.
Suriname police say the teenager's return to Jamaica was the result of successful cooperation between local and international intelligence services.
The arrest of the adolescent comes only weeks after Commander of the US Southern Command General John Kelly told the US Armed Services Committee that about 100 people from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, and Venezuela had joined ISIS.
However, Bunting said Kelly's report may have resulted from a misunderstanding at the time as his prepared text to address the Armed Services Committee did not mention Jamaica among the states from which people were leaving to join ISIS.
At the time of Kelly's report on March 12, the minister said the Government had received no information that Jamaicans were leaving the island to join ISIS.
Bunting also said that the ministry was monitoring the situation regarding the recruiting efforts of international terrorist groups and had found nothing to indicate that Jamaicans were involved.
Opposition Spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith, who was not aware of the reports about the teenager's alleged attempt to join ISIS when The Gleaner contacted him, said he expected that the youngster would be positively identified soon and the facts regarding his intentions made available.
He said when the facts are established, questions must be asked of the national security minister within the context of his recent statement in response to Kelly's claims.
"If it is a fact, then the response would be that it is an alarming situation. All of us need to be concerned. We need to find out what is so attractive to all of these young people all over the world," Smith said.
"As a country, as a Government, as an Opposition, we have to do some deep investigations into what is attracting these persons, and if there are others who have already left."
Concern has emerged about ISIS' effectiveness in luring young people in the Western world, especially through its effective use of social media. It has reportedly ramped up its luring of young women and girls, who are seen as potential brides for its young male fighters. Three teenage British girls, who are believed to have travelled to Syria to join ISIS, recently refocused attention on the Islamic extremist group's appeal to young people.