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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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Letters to the Editor

What I wrote about the ISIS-affiliated Trini mothers

THE EDITOR: I would like to take issue with a headline to a story in which I was recently quoted at some length.

The story in question was titled: “Criminologist: Jail ISIS moms” (October 16).

I would like to clarify that I at no point said that ISIS-affiliated Trini mothers should be jailed on their return to Trinidad, if they do indeed return.

This is in fact what I wrote, via e-mail to Azard Ali, the journalist who wrote the piece:

“If Trinidad is to repatriate ISIS-affiliated Trini women and children, then some of the returning women ought to be investigated under human trafficking legislation, to which TT is a signatory. These women, along with their husbands, took their children to a war zone, and in effect, trafficked their sons and daughters into ISIS’s machinery of war and sexual servitude. They should face justice for this grave dereliction of parental responsibility.”

Notice that I said “some” and “investigated.” I do not think that all these women should be jailed, only that they should be investigated under human trafficking legislation for their role in taking their children to a war zone to join a genocidal group.

I also acknowledged in my e-mail that, “It is possible, of course, and as local imam Sheraz Ali has pointed out, that some Trini women were themselves coerced or trafficked by their husbands into going to the caliphate or deceived about where their family was headed when they left.”

Hence my position is a good deal more nuanced than the headline suggests.

I greatly respect Azard Ali, the journalist who wrote the piece, and do not take issue with the overall substance of his report. I am also a keen reader of Newsday. But I would like to request a retraction of the headline, since it does not accurately reflect my position.

DR SIMON COTTEE

University of Kent, UK

Editor's note: Our apologies to Dr Cottee for the inaccurate headline on the story and for any embarrassment or confusion it may have caused.

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