Shane Crawford

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Shane Crawford was an English language propagandist and sniper for ISIS in Syria and was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the U.S. Department of State.“State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/state-department-terrorist-designations-of-el-shafee-elsheikh-anjem-choudary-sami-bouras-shane-dominic-crawford-and-mark-john-taylor/. According to the government of Trinidad and Tobago in February 2017, it is suspected that Crawford was killed by a U.S. sponsored drone sometime in October 2016.Frances Robles, “Trying to Stanch Trinidad’s Flow of Young Recruits to ISIS,” New York Times, February 21, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/world/americas/trying-to-stanch-trinidads-flow-of-young-recruits-to-isis.html?_r=0.

Crawford was born in Trinidad and Tobago into the Spiritual Baptist faith—an offshoot of Christianity that features elements of African spirituality. Given the religious diversity of his home country, Crawford was exposed to Islam at an early age. However, it was not until 2005 did Crawford convert to the Muslim faith. During this time, Crawford worked at a call center while simultaneously enrolled at a local university.Amandla Thomas-Johnson, “Caribbean to 'Caliphate': On the trail of the Trinidadians fighting for the Islamic State,” Middle East Eye, March 1, 2018, https://www.middleeasteye.net/big-story/caribbean-caliphate-trail-trinidadians-fighting-islamic-state.

Crawford attended Umar ibn al-Khattab mosque in Rio Claro. Along with four other congregants, Crawford was particularly invested in furthering his Islamic studies and took to scouring the Internet for more information. According to a Muslim leader in Trinidad, Umar Abdullah, Crawford was also influenced by the jihadist leanings of Abdullah al-Faisal, a U.S.-designated Islamist propagandist who was imprisoned in the U.K. and deported back to Jamaica in 2007. In February 2010, a member of al-Khattab mosque was shot and killed, leading Crawford to seek revenge on the attacker. Crawford proposed a revenge attack to the mosque’s imam, but was promptly dismissed. Crawford and his group of friends broke away from the mosque shortly after.Amandla Thomas-Johnson, “Caribbean to 'Caliphate': On the trail of the Trinidadians fighting for the Islamic State,” Middle East Eye, March 1, 2018, https://www.middleeasteye.net/big-story/caribbean-caliphate-trail-trinidadians-fighting-islamic-state.

Crawford first rose to notoriety in Trinidad and Tobago in 2011 when he was implicated in a plot to assassinate then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several cabinet members. It was alleged that members of the army and police officers were involved in the plot. During a nationally televised press conference, the prime minister did not offer further details, but claimed that the alleged plot was in retaliation for a state of emergency she imposed in August of 2011. The state of emergency was a response to counter escalating crime and violence linked to heavily armed drug gangs. Ultimately, Crawford was never charged for the plot.Linda Hutchinson-Jafar, “Trinidadian mother confirms her son with ISIL: newspaper,” Reuters, October 12, 2014, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-trinidadtobago/trinidadian-mother-confirms-her-son-with-isil-newspaper-idUSKCN0I10VD20141012.; “Trinidad PM Persad-Bissessar: Assassination plot foiled,” BBC News, November 24, 2011, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-15882204.; Linda Hutchinson Jafar, “Trinidad PM says police thwarted assassination plot,” Reuters, November 24, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-trinidad-security/trinidad-pm-says-police-thwarted-assassination-plot-idUSTRE7AN1LO20111124.

In November 2013, Crawford and two other men were accused of carrying out a double murder in a busy town in central Trinidad. Less than a month later, all three men were suspected to be in Syria fighting for ISIS—the first Trinidadian and Tobagonians to do so. It is unconfirmed if the November murders were terror related.Simon Cottee, “Trinidad’s Islamic State Problem,” Lawfare, November 17, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/trinidads-islamic-state-problem.

In July 2016, Crawford—now operating under the name, Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi—made headlines again as he was prominently featured throughout ISIS’s magazine Dabiq. In the accompanying interview, Crawford encouraged sympathizers back home to “attack the interests of the crusader coalition,” including embassies, businesses, and civilians.Par Amandla Thomas-Johnson, “Trinidadian Islamic State militant Shane Crawford put on US terror list,” Middle East Eye, April 13, 2017, https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/news/trinidadian-shane-crawford-put-us-terror-list-1342123. He called for attacks on western embassies throughout the islands, hoping to encourage a new wave of radical actors to spread ISIS’s violent message both domestically and potentially, internationally.Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj, “Jihad in Trinidad,” Oxford Research Group, February 23, 2018, https://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/blog/jihad-in-trinidad.

On March 30, 2017, The U.S. Department of State designated Crawford as an SDGT.“State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/state-department-terrorist-designations-of-el-shafee-elsheikh-anjem-choudary-sami-bouras-shane-dominic-crawford-and-mark-john-taylor/. Crawford was listed as a foreign terrorist fighter in Syria carrying out terrorist activity on behalf of ISIS, including acting as an English language propagandist for the group.“State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/state-department-terrorist-designations-of-el-shafee-elsheikh-anjem-choudary-sami-bouras-shane-dominic-crawford-and-mark-john-taylor/. Several months later on August 18, 2017, the U.N. Security Council listed Crawford as being associated with the “financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by” ISIS.“Shane Dominic Crawford,” United Nations Security Council, August 18, 2017, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/shane-dominic-crawford.

According to Crawford’s mother, he was injured in a U.S. sponsored drone strike in Syria in October 2016 and eventually died from his injuries.Amandla Thomas Johnson, “US kills Trinidadian IS fighter, then adds him to terrorism list,” Middle East Eye, April 20, 2017, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-kills-trinidadian-fighter-then-adds-him-terrorism-list. In February of 2017, Trinidad and Tobago’s attorney general, Faris Al-Rawi, stated that Crawford was believed to have died in Syria.Frances Robles, “Trying to Stanch Trinidad’s Flow of Young Recruits to ISIS,” New York Times, February 21, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/world/americas/trying-to-stanch-trinidads-flow-of-young-recruits-to-isis.html?_r=0.

United States

The U.S. Department of State designated Shane Dominic Crawford as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on March 30, 2017.“State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/state-department-terrorist-designations-of-el-shafee-elsheikh-anjem-choudary-sami-bouras-shane-dominic-crawford-and-mark-john-taylor/.

United Nations

The U.N. Security Council lists Shane Crawford as being associated with the “financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by” ISIS.“Shane Dominic Crawford,” United Nations Security Council, August 18, 2017, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/shane-dominic-crawford.

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