The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Joseph Mondello as U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
Mondello recently faced a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and said that if confirmed, he would seek help from federal agencies to reduce the rate of ISIS recruiting in T&T and would urge T&T to drop its OAS support for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
Mondello, 80, also said he would address sex and drug trafficking and support human rights and women’s empowerment, during questioning on Wednesday.
Senators pressed Mondello on ISIS recruitment in Trinidad and Tobago, with chairman Marco Rubio saying that Trinidad and Tobago “produces more ISIS fighters per capita than any other country in the western hemisphere.”
He said ISIS is trying to rebuild as an insurgency instead of controlling large swathes of territory.
“As we were talking about in our meeting,” Rubio told Mondello, “there are numerous daily nonstop flights between Trinidad and Tobago and Miami and Kennedy Airport. So we should care a lot about what’s happening there. It’s very close to home.”
Mondello said ISIS has recruited 135 members of Trinidad and Tobago’s small Muslim community to fight elsewhere.
He said the problem overshadows all the other issues he expects to face, and that he would employ federal agencies to help the local government grapple with it.