U.S. Treasury Designates Jamaica-Based Islamic State Recruiter as Terrorist

Radical cleric returned to Jamaica.File photo dated 23/01/03 of Muslim Cleric Abdullah El-
Press Association via AP Images

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has added a prominent jihadi ideologue based in Jamaica to the American government’s list of specially designated global terrorists for recruiting prospective militants for the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Referring to the ISIS jihadist in Jamaica—Abdullah Ibrahim al-Faisal, also known as Trevor William Forrest—John Smith, the director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), declared:

Faisal has recruited for and provided support to ISIS and his actions have influenced terrorists who engaged in bomb plots and other horrific attacks on innocent civilians. This designation will help deter Faisal’s global following and prevent U.S. persons from supporting him in any manner.

On December 5, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was imposing terrorist sanctions on Faisal.

In a press release, Treasury revealed:

Faisal was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIS.  As a result of today’s designation, all property and interests in property of Faisal subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him.

In August, the New York County District Attorney’s office, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), unsealed an indictment charging the Faisal with recruiting and providing support to ISIS-affiliated jihadists seeking to committ acts of terror.

The United States is currently trying to extradite the Islamic terrorist from Jamaica.

When announcing the indictment against Faisal in late August, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said:

Shaikh Faisal has dedicated his life to terror recruitment. Through his lectures, website, and videos, he incites untold numbers of people around the world to take up the cause of jihad. As is alleged in this case, he provided material support to the Islamic State by facilitating the passage of a self-described ISIS sympathizer from New York to Syria.

The defendant also served as the fulcrum of a recruitment effort that encouraged individuals to carry out acts of terrorism in the name of the Islamic State and connected them with other radical supporters who were willing—or already in the process—of doing the same in countries around the world.

Treasury accused Faisal of “directly or indirectly” being connected to terrorist incidents linked to both ISIS and its rival al-Qaeda, including:

[T]he Ohio State University attacker during Thanksgiving weekend in 2016; a Garland, Texas shooter at a Mohammed drawing contest in 2015; Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square bomber in New York City in 2010; Mohammed Chowdury, who planned and attempted to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2010; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber who attempted to down an airliner over Detroit, Michigan in 2009; two of the four bombers of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London; and Richard Reid, the 2001 shoe bomber.

Jamaica is home to an estimated 5,000 Muslims who make up less than 1 percent of the total population of about 2.9 million.

In 2016, the U.S. military estimated that 150 would-be jihadists have left the Caribbean to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Most (up to 125) of the Caribbean foreign fighters are from Trinidad and Tobago, described by the Associated Press (AP) as “the largest per-capita source” of recruits for the jihadist group in the Western Hemisphere.

Early this year, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) warned, “Violent extremist organizations like ISIS seek to radicalize and recruit vulnerable populations in the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America.”

SOUTHCOM, the U.S. State Department, and American lawmakers have acknowledged that ISIS maintains a presence in the Western Hemisphere.

“Faisal pushed his jihadist message long before the rise of the Islamic State. But he gravitated to [Abu Bakr al] Baghdadi’s cause as it gained steamed,” reported the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank.

“He deliberately sought to woo Western recruits to the jihadist ideology. At the beginning of his career, some of those inspired by his teachings made their way into al Qaeda’s fold,” it added. “But as the Islamic State mushroomed in 2013 and 2014, some of his admirers became enthralled with Baghdadi’s caliphate, just like Faisal.”


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