DEBKAfile’s sources in the US Minneapolis-St. Paul report that the disappearance of dozens of young US-born Somali men in this area since last fall is under investigation by anti-terror authorities concerned they have been recruited to fight with al Qaeda-linked Islamist al Shabaab militia to topple the transitional federal government in Mogadishu. Some may even return home trained to form America’s first homegrown Islamist terrorist cell. The probe, triggered by a group of concerned ex-US military officers, has spread to Somali communities in other parts of America and, according to our sources, Canada too.
Last December a local newspaper reported suspicions that these young men may have returned to Somalia for jihad after Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized US citizen, died in a suicide bombing in northern Somalia. Ahmed, 27, was a 1999 graduate of Minneapolis’s Roosevelt High School.
The London Telegraph added: US law enforcement agencies are concerned the young jihadists could return to the US to plot terror attacks following a similar path to the British Pakistanis behind the London bombings in July 2005 who made many visits to radical mosques in Pakistan. Since then, British Muslim extremists were suspected of involvement in the Mumbai terrorist outrage last November.
The FBI has issued grand jury subpoenas for the teachers at the Minneapolis and St. Paul mosques to find out who the missing men’s teachers were, what they were taught, how recruited them and funded their travel.
Debka can be a bit biased at times so I thought I’d take a look around and see if I could find some local reporting of this. Sure enough it exists but I’m not seeing anything significant from the national MSM. Read on.
A Senate hearing investigated suspected recruitment of youths in Minnesota and elsewhere by a group for service in Somalia’s conflict.
By KEVIN DIAZ, Star Tribune
Last update: March 12, 2009 – 7:08 AM
WASHINGTON – Minneapolis has become the focus of a wide-ranging FBI investigation into a terrorist group’s recruitment of young immigrant men for service in Somalia’s ethnic and religious warfare.
The group, Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaida offshoot, is suspected of being involved in the disappearance of as many as 20 young Somali-Americans who have vanished from their homes in the Twin Cities and turned up with the radical Islamist group in Somalia.
Federal counter-terrorism officials told a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday that the recruitment represents a potential security threat to the United States. If recruits were to be indoctrinated abroad and later returned to America, they could “provide Al-Qaida with trained extremists inside the United States,” said Andrew Liepman, deputy director of intelligence in the National Counterterrorism Center of the Directorate of Intelligence.
“We have seen Al-Qaida franchise itself around the world,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who chairs the committee. But he also said there is no evidence of the radicalization of the Somali-American community generally.
Philip Mudd, an assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, said that the mostly impressionable youths recruited in Minnesota and in other Somali communities around the U.S. seem more likely to become “cannon fodder” than high-level terrorist operatives. Mudd told the committee that some recruits are as young as 12 years old.
The concerns were highlighted by the case of Shirwa Ahmed, a 27-year-old college student from Minneapolis who is believed to be the first U.S. citizen to become a suicide bomber. Ahmed blew himself up in Somalia in October in an attack that killed up to 30 people.
The homeland security committee investigating recruitments heard Wednesday from two leaders of the Twin Cities Somali community.