What is Joke for Schoolboy is Death for Crapaud.

Vladimir Putin Quoting Russian Intelligence: The Islamic State (ISIS) is Financed from 40 Countries, including G20 Members. RT | 16 Nov, 2015 20:58

"During the summit, “I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them,” Putin told the journalists.

"I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products," he said.

The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon," Putin added, comparing the convoy to gas and oil pipeline systems." SOURCE

Some Trinbagonians, driven by an impressive zeal which their own communities could not awaken, channel and employ for the betterment of the homeland are now fighting for Islamic State (IS). The latest statistics say that close to ninety persons, including the families of the 35 Trinbagonian fighters are now in Syria.

I wish I could sit down with them and talk to my brothers face to face without summarily lumping them or their motives along with those of the other scourges, the perennially footloose privateers, mercenaries, contractors, missionaries, humanitarian interventionists, agents of destabilisation and of course who can forget the heroic troops who defend Western "freedoms" often in unjust aggression against countries which either have some valuable resource to be plundered or countries which have the audacity to exercise self-determination in thinking and doing innovative, progressive things.

I am not questioning how Trinbagonians ended up in IS. Trinbagonians are notorious/famous for ending up in the most unlikely places and doing the most amazing things but I am wondering why. Why did they choose this outlet and why have they become so important to IS that a promotional/recruitment video was made specifically for and about its Trinbagonian members?

Daurius Figueira, a Trinbagonian criminologist who has been researching the movement for years suggests that Trinbagonian recruits may be most useful because of the following:- they are third world people whose first language is English. As Trinbagonians, they are also Caricom nationals and people of the Commonwealth. They speak English and are educated and can be used by IS to take the fight on the home soil of first world countries such as Britain and the US, and finally, along with nationals of eight other Caribbean countries, Trinbagonians enjoy visa-free travel to Europe. SOURCE

Why is this latest development so perplexing to us? Isn't their motivation to join driven by a similar self-sacrificing zeal that leads some of our people to enlist in the armies of the superpowers to fight their "just" wars against "true" enemies? What is the difference here? I do not think it is useful to answer by pointing to their obvious violence and the shock effect of the recorded executions which they have circulated. We are intelligent adults. We should know that despite the treaties of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols, savage butchery goes on hidden from our view and sometimes in plain sight [and unpunished] wherever wars are being fought. Think about the latest atrocity and merely tip of the iceberg, the US bombing of Médecins Sans Frontières' Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan last month. I don't follow Twitter so I will wait for those of you who do to tell me if hashtag "Pray for patients burning on hospital beds" ever made trending status.

In the interview with former US Defence Intelligence Agency Chief, Michael Flynn, [see previous post] the interviewer rightly challenges Flynn about his inflammatory comment that the war against IS is a war against Islam. What Mehdi highlights, based on research by persons who have actually had face to face interactions with the members of these guerilla groups, is that the fighters are often not practicing Muslims.

"Mehdi Hasan: A lot of terrorism experts who have sat down with these guys, they say actually these guys are political, these guys are, as you say yourselves, are a political group using the religion as cover.

Michael Flynn: I don't agree. I don't agree. The guys that are the serious, the serious leaders of these groups absolutely believe that their version of Islam is the right version, is the correct version.

Mehdi Hasan: You say they are serious leaders. We are now seeing reports that ISIL, the top ranks of ISIL are filled with ex-Ba'athist army officers from the Saddam regime. They are not all religious fanatics as you seem to imply. I mean, MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence agency, did a study of several hundred terrorists a few years and found, I quote, "Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practice their faith regularly and could actually be regarded as religious novices.""  SOURCE

Adding to this information we are told by Trinbagonian investigative reporters and intelligence that in addition to the professionals among the Trinbagonian recruits,
"On assessments earlier in the year from intelligence sources...a number of those who had gone were from T&T’s criminal fringe element, rather than conservative Muslim basis, Dillon said that assessment was still on par and those persons were believed to be intelligent."  SOURCE 
So if our intelligence is accurate, some of these conscripts from Trinbago were already operating outside of the law before they made the decision to join IS. About those who could be described as religious zealots, did their indoctrination take place in Trinbago or on location in Syria?

For the time being, we can only watch and listen and try to learn as much as we can so that the conclusions that we arrive at will not be as facile and clichéd as the mainstream would desire. We, who have over time cultivated the reputation of being easy going, permissive and true adherents to no cause are now finding ourselves having to lift the veil. Caught between the continuing waves of violence upon which this colony was built and its continuing and increasingly virulent manifestations despite the promises of independence, the only hope for us, and for the world for that matter, lies in ruthless self-examination. Since September 7, a fragile calm has descended upon my homeland. I agree that for the families and communities still directly affected by violence, that is no consolation, but it is a window which we must utilise.

I am deeply saddened by violence because I do not believe that anything sustainable can be built upon it. You may bring about an illusory order or peace but that illusion will eventually crumble along with your temporary respite. Over time, festering internal trauma and external agents of reprisal will patiently and persistently circle and infiltrate your camp waiting for opportunities to strike back. You will forever be at war to protect any peace or society which is itself a product of war. That unbending third law of motion applies itself in our relations with each other, both at the personal and international levels. And at these times, I really question our outrage, our shock and awe and the delusions, the hypocrisy, and for the few, the innocent idealism upon which these responses are based. For every action there is a reaction.

For whom and for what should we promise to lay down our lives? The waters are so murky, we will never discover exactly how many turtles are stacked all the way down, who is abuser and abused, who are the chess players and who are the pawns, who is stretching and yawning and untroubled in the Devil's comfortable bed while young men are being encouraged to go out to face death. As Trinbagonians, we would have heard the warning in that local expression - What is joke for schoolboy is death for crapaud. Being descendants of both terrorists and the terrrorised, and having both frog and schoolboy running through our veins, we really should know better.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!