Head of the Islamic Front and social activist Umar Abdullah has responded to video footage of a recent interview with National Geographic correspondents in which he is identified as having distributed propaganda material and encouraged young Muslims to leave TT and fight for the Islamic extremist group ISIS. He said he was merely describing his early affiliation with the group and is now a changed man.
Newsday spoke to Abdullah, who said while he once served as a local recruiter for ISIS, he has changed his perception of Islam and is now committed to saving those who may be persuaded to join the group. He added that he is also prepared to work alongside government agencies in preventing the migration of nationals to join ISIS.
“I saw the video (on Tuesday). What they (National Geographic) did was edit out a part of me explaining my earlier life, it wasn’t the entire interview. What they sliced off was an explanation of how and why I fell in with ISIS.
“I have issued public apologies for my involvement in encouraging individuals to engage in this type of rhetoric. I have come a long way from that kind of understanding.”
Abdullah said he was concerned over TT’s reputation as being one of the major contributors in the western hemisphere to ISIS, and said if left unaddressed TT could be on the verge of serious social upheaval.
He claims to have an intricate knowledge of the group’s local chapter.
“Right now I’m preparing to go to Tobago, where we’re having a conference on extremism, and it’s being hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
“I’m probably the only person in the country who has knowledge of the type of information that is being circulated and who are involved in ISIS and why our youth made the decision to leave and join ISIS.”
He also urged young Muslims who may be considering joining the group to think carefully before joining, to take the religion of Islam seriously and to use the life of the Prophet Mohammed as an example.
The interview, which formed part of National Geographic’s travel series Chain of Command, was aired on Monday and highlights civil unrest and fundamentalism in different parts of the world.