December 22, 2008

Minnesota Has A Serious Jihadi Problem

Usually, the pretentious Powerline guys are on top of analyzing the out of control problems popping up with the Somali population and the rise of a clan-like sharia system in certain neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. The most high profile incident involved Somali cab drivers who refused to drive passengers who carried alcohol or dogs with them.

But so far, and I may have missed it, the guys who love to remind you ad nauseum that they attended super exclusive private schools and Dartmouth and how the Republicans will always lose, have missed discusing the rise of Somalis leaving their families and winding up fighting in Africa for assorted Islamic groups. So, it falls upon these half-witted shoulders to bring the issue to the fore.

Nearly two decades of civil war have ripped apart Somalia, including an invasion two years ago by troops from neighboring Ethiopia that ousted an Islamist government that U.S. officials say was allied with al Qaeda. Ethiopia has said it plans to withdraw, which would likely make way for the loose coalition of Islamist insurgents threatening to retake the central government's seat in Mogadishu.

U.S. Somali community leaders estimate that as many as 20 men may have left the U.S. to fight in the past two years.

The reports have raised concern among counterterrorism officials about immigrant youths being recruited by radical groups. For years, terrorism experts have believed that better assimilation of immigrants in the U.S. than elsewhere makes the threat of radicalization of young Muslims less than it is in Britain and other countries with large immigrant communities beset by high unemployment and less opportunity. The Somali case could cause that view to be reassessed.

E.K. Wilson, an FBI special agent in the bureau's Minneapolis office, said he couldn't confirm the existence of an investigation, but he said the FBI is aware that "a number of young Somali men from throughout the United States have left, potentially to fight with terrorist groups. We're in the process of working with the local Somali community to get the parents to come to us with concerns about radicalization of youths."

The FBI confirmed it is assisting the Somali government in the October bombing investigation, and that it helped repatriate the body of an American killed in the incident. The FBI wouldn't identify the person.

At a news conference at a Minneapolis mosque earlier this month, family members of three young men, 17 to 19 years old, told reporters that they were alarmed after the teens disappeared in early November. They next heard from the teens that they were in Somalia and had no contact thereafter.

The FBI is trying to find out whether there are recruitment networks helping the men travel to Somalia, according to people familiar with the probe.

The investigation is complicated by the close-knit, clan-dominated culture of Somalia, which persists even in the diaspora. The nation has been without a unified central government for nearly two decades, and has been ripped apart by conflict among warlords and clans.

"It's very serious," Mr. Jamal said. "The community finds itself dumbfounded. One thing they are really interested in is to find who is doing the financing, who is doing the training and who is sending them to fight a war."

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