What a small ISIS cell in Trinidad is teaching SOUTHCOM

Just because a country is relatively small doesn’t diminish the threat, or the difficulty of mustering a counter-effort

Earlier this year, working with its partners on the ground, the U.S. military helped disrupt an alleged ISIS-inspired attack that would have targeted a festival — in Trinidad and Tobago.

The raid grabbed headlines immediately afterward. But it — and U.S. Southern Command’s ongoing efforts to help the Trinidad security forces develop counter-extremism capabilities — offer lessons about how to confront radicalism at home and abroad, SOUTHCOM’s commander Adm. Kurt Tidd said Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago had little experience with violent extremism until it became the nation with the largest per-capita ISIS population in the Western Hemisphere. Even just a year ago, Tidd described the Caribbean cell as more aspirational than active. It’s a valuable case study as the Pentagon grapples with a post-caliphate Islamic State and the group’s metastasizing spread.