More families seek to bring home Isis survivors

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

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