The list is growing.
A Barataria grandfather whose six grandchildren and two daughters-in-law are detained at Syria’s al-Hol refugee camp are among those who have joined the number of local families trying to get their relatives back to T&T.
Joan Crawford, mother of Shane Crawford—a “poster boy” for the Islamic State (ISIS)—is also seeking to join efforts since her last surviving grandchild and daughter-in-law are in a refugee camp as well.
They are among the latest reaching out after the Concerned Muslims of TT (CMTT) wrote Government in May and last week seeking to bring “home” 25 plus children and several adults detained at al-Hol. They are relatives of nationals who went to Isis war zones in recent years
A total of 70,043 people from 40 countries are at the camp including 11,000 wives and children of Isis fighters.
In 2016 Government confirmed 130 nationals went to Isis war zones. Crawford and Milton Algernon were declared terrorists. Both were on an intelligence list Guardian Media obtained in 2016.
CMTT’s Imtiaz Mohammed said yesterday there has been no response from Foreign Affairs to its letter. Since last the publication of a story in the Sunday Guardian on CMTT’s bid to bring home the children and adults, more T&T families came forward yesterday seeking help.
Other CMTT officials said the number of children and adults was now around 40 and another list will have to be sent to Government. The first set of names sent, involved people related to 12 plus families mainly in North and Central. Latest families interested are from Central/South.
Among those seeking CMTT’s help is a Barataria grandfather whose two sons went overseas at the end of 2015, ending up in Syria. One was killed three years ago and another last year in air strikes, he added.
The elderly man said one went to a Saudi University and was “recruited” as a top scholar and another went to a friend in Egypt. But when they went on pilgrimage with their families and tried to live in Turkey, he added they “...ended up going to Syria where they were told by people they bounced up, they had to do military training—we’ve since gotten word they were killed.”
“Their wives and children are now in the refugee camp. We wrote National Security two months ago and the only response has been a visit from an official. My concern is my grands, two girls and four boys aged between one to 10. A few were born overseas.”
“We heard in May from people, they are starving to death, no water to bathe for months, bad food, they sick all the time. The small one was hospitalised for malnutrition. As Muslims, we know whatever has to happen will but is better these children come home. So we gave names to CMTT,” the grandfather said.
Crawford’s mother said her daughter-in-law Ushera Mohammed-Seebaran and her last surviving grandchild Amatura, age three, are in the camp also. Other grandchildren age 10, four and three were killed in battles between Isis and international forces.
One grandchild accompanied Crawford and his wife when they left T&T in 2012. Joan said he divorced Ushera overseas and both remarried. But both divorced and wed each other again. The daughter-in-law contacted her mother in Caroni a few months ago saying she wanted to come home.
“Amatura is my only surviving grandbaby, I really wish she can live to reach home,” Joan added.
Mohammed said “Families in T&T and CMTT are willing to pay the cost of these relatives’ return. It won’t cost the Government. This is also a good chance for the Government to get more intelligence information since some names may not have been on their radar and they would now be able to talk to family members.”
Reporter: Gail Alexander