Somalis Leaving U.S. for Jihad

Patrick Poole, Pajamas Media, December 12, 2008

{snip} Ahmed [Shirwa Ahmed], who killed himself in a suicide bombing attack in Somalia in October, is just one of up to 40 men from the Twin Cities area who have disappeared and are feared to have returned to their homeland for training with the al-Shabaab terrorist group to wage jihad.

The FBI is investigating similar disappearances in other major Somali communities in Columbus, OH, Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, and Seattle. There are even reports coming from Europe, recently from Denmark, of Somali men returning home to fight with al-Shabaab and other terrorist organizations.

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Predictably, Somali leaders in many of these cities are claiming surprise and shock that anyone from their communities and mosques would be leaving the U.S. for jihad. But as Daveed Gartenstein-Ross explained in a Fox News report, there exists an active recruiting and transportation network in the U.S., including Minneapolis, for Somali-run terrorist training camps, many of which have recently reopened. In many instances, these same Somali leaders purporting ignorance and innocence for the local media are not only aware of these recruiting operations, but have actively participated in them.

A year ago I reported here at Pajamas Media (“Homeland Insecurity: Terrorist Fundraising in the Heartland”) on a November 2007 jihadist fundraising and recruiting event held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis, featuring two high-ranking representatives of the Eritrean-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). {snip}

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This event was definitely intended to organize and mobilize the extreme elements of the Somali community here to support the armed struggle against the internationally recognized Somali government and oppose U.S. foreign policy. {snip}

A year later, however, the local media are scratching their heads in wonderment about what has been happening right under their noses. And the same Homeland Security and law enforcement officials who had taken a laissez faire approach to these fundraising and recruiting events are finally reexamining these activities. One Homeland Security official I spoke with last week even cited last year’s Minneapolis event as one of the tipping points in radicalizing certain segments of the local Somali community.

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In the past year developments within the Somali terrorist organizations have resulted in splits and fractionalization, with the most radical element, al-Shabaab, the former armed wing of the Islamic Courts Union movement, breaking away and forging closer alliances with al-Qaeda. As a result, Somalia is quickly becoming a new safe haven for al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab and its leaders were designated a terrorist organization by the State Department back in March.

The most specific concern of Homeland Security officials about the departure of Somalis and other American Muslims for the terror training camps in Somalia is not that they will be killed, as was Minneapolis suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed, but that they will get trained in the Somali terrorist camps and return home to wage jihad against the U.S. from within.

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MEMRI has translated a video that recently appeared on numerous Somali websites—many of them run from the U.S.—in which al-Shabaab called on Americans and Europeans to join the jihad in Somalia. The video directly threatens Americans with extermination:

I’m telling the kuffar [infidels], the English people, the American people. . .&nbsp. We’re coming for you! We’re going to exterminate you all!

{snip}

Back here in the U.S., many of these sentiments can be heard in many mosques preaching violence and hatred towards America, the country which gave hundreds of thousands of Somalis refuge. {snip}

In Columbus, several mosques openly preach against America and encourage jihad. One mosque, Masjid Omar Ibn el-Khattab, nearby the Ohio State University campus, was the center of the largest known al-Qaeda cell in the U.S. since 9/11. {snip}

Another U.S. citizen, Ruben Luis Shumpert, an ex-convict Seattle barber and Muslim convert, was killed in Somalia earlier this year while fighting with al-Shabaab. {snip}

{snip} Why Homeland Security and FBI officials have been so slow to respond to this growing threat remains unanswered.

One area they are beginning to take action in is with the flow of funds from the U.S. to Somalia. {snip} The Columbus Dispatch reported two weeks ago that banks in the Columbus area, which is home to the second largest Somali population in the U.S. behind Minneapolis, are closing accounts for these U.S.-based hawala operations concerned about their inability to track where exactly the money goes after the transfer overseas.

Amazingly, however, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and his Somali staff liaison, Abdirizak Farah, are pressuring the local banks to create alternatives to keep the money flowing back to Somalia.

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