"It's really surprising," said Saeed Fahia, executive director of the nonprofit Confederation of the Somali Community in Minnesota. "It doesn't even seem rational." And Minnesota Public Radio fell for it, of course.
"Terrorist pipeline continues to flow from Minn. to Somalia," by Laura Yuen for Minnesota Public Radio, October 26 (thanks to Kenneth):
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Four years after federal authorities in the Twin Cities began investigating homegrown recruitment for the terrorist group al-Shabab, at least two additional men slipped away to Somalia as recently as July.
Federal authorities believe the Minneapolis men joined the group and are still in the East African nation.
The FBI's confirmation this week that a terrorist conduit continues to flow from Minnesota to Somalia perplexes members of Minnesota's Somali community, who have watched with dismay as young men have disappeared.
Among those missing is 19-year-old Mohamed Osman, who once called a leafy little cul-de-sac in south Minneapolis home.
Inside his family's two-story house, Osman's older cousin, Jamal Salim, recalled when the family realized that Osman, who graduated last year from Southwest High School, was missing.
"One day we're at home, like, 'Where is Mohamed?' " Salim said. "It's been two days, and we're thinking he's out with friends. The parents are going crazy. They think he's got arrested or something."
Salim said Osman's mother didn't realize her son was in Somalia until she received a visit from the FBI. Salim said his aunt was stunned.
As were earlier waves of about 20 Twin Cities men who federal authorities say enlisted with al-Shabab, the introverted Osman was especially secretive about his plans, his cousin said.
"It made me mad because he didn't speak to no relative about it," Salim said. "We're heartbroken about it because he's like our sibling. Imagine not knowing what's going on with your own brother — how he's been feeling, who he's been talking to, and what they're telling him. We lost a brother, and I don't know how to get him back."
Authorities say Osman and 20-year-old Omar Ali Farah left Minneapolis for Somalia on July 18.
Salim said Osman was religious — to the point of nagging Salim for not praying, and for not wearing the long white tunics favored by some devout Muslim men. Osman had no desire to go to college. He taught the Qur'an to kids at an Islamic school on Lake Street.
Osman's family didn't worry about him, because he appeared to be staying out of trouble.
Salim said he now regrets not intervening in his cousin's life.
"To me, it's like he made a stupid mistake," Salim said. "If he would have talked to the elders who were responsible for him, they would told him, 'What's the reason we brought you from Somalia if you're going to go back?' "
COMMUNITY LEADERS PUZZLED
What's even more puzzling to Somali-American community members is why someone would want to join al-Shabab now. Aside from the fact that it's a ruthless militia known to behead, amputate and bomb its victims, military pressure has forced al-Shabab to withdraw from several major cities it used to control.
"It's really surprising," said Saeed Fahia, executive director of the nonprofit Confederation of the Somali Community in Minnesota. "It doesn't even seem rational."
Fahia said only someone vulnerable would be duped into fighting for a badly losing team. He said most young Somali-Americans he knows are excited to return to their homeland to help its people.
"They are going back for business, to find work, to connect with their roots, to learn about the culture," Fahia said. "Mogadishu seems to be thriving."...
So religion appears to be al-Shabab's predominant battle cry. Al-Shabab's end game has always been to to radicalize its troops through its extreme interpretation of Islam, Wilson said.
One local figure who has emerged as an alleged recruiter in the plan to send Minnesota men overseas to fight is Omer Abdi Mohamed. Former Twin Cities recruits have testified at trial that he used his knowledge of the Qur'an to preach jihad. Mohamed pleaded guilty last year to being a part of the conspiracy, and this week a federal judge ordered him jailed while he awaits sentencing.
A big concern, said U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones, is that Mohamed may be still involved with the effort to send more men overseas to fight.
"There are indications that there are people who have traveled to Somalia, and he may have had some role in it," Jones said.
Mohamed's attorney said his client had nothing to do with it.
Federal authorities, however, note that Mohamed is in a position to influence young people through his association with an Islamic school on Lake Street in Minneapolis. It's the same school where Mohamed Osman, the 19-year-old traveler who left in July, taught the Qur'an....