“Big Brothers Big Sisters has developed a mentorship program for Somali youth…” This seems to be based on the proposition that young men join the jihad because they lack trusted older people with whom they can talk. That seems to be a stretch. And as for the youth leadership opportunities, no details are given, but it also seems doubtful that a young devout Muslim would give up being a warrior of jihad for a chance to be a youth basketball coach or some such.
Meanwhile, “This is what community members asked us to do, and in some ways, demanded we do.” They demanded it, and they’re running it: “To address some of the concerns about the program, Luger signed a memorandum of understanding in May that said the program would not be used to collect intelligence. His office also set up a Somali task force to lead the project.” How does Luger know that his Somali task force rejects the understanding of Islam that is the real, albeit unacknowledged, impetus for these young men who join jihad? He doesn’t, of course, because he is doubtless certain that Islam is a Religion of Peace and that such concerns are entirely unwarranted.
“Federal program to fight terrorism takes shape in Minnesota,” by Amy Forliti, Associated Press, September 9, 2015:
MINNEAPOLIS — A federal pilot program designed to combat terror recruiting among Somali youth in Minnesota is beginning to take shape and will include a mentorship program, youth leadership opportunities and other initiatives focused on steering at-risk young people down a positive track, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said.
Luger spoke about the program’s progress ahead of a Wednesday afternoon announcement, providing the most details yet about the effort, which the Justice Department unveiled a year ago. Similar programs are underway in Boston and Los Angeles.
The programs have rolled out slowly in part due to suspicion and some resistance in the pilot cities, where some have worried that they would amount to government surveillance of Muslims.
Luger said Tuesday that the ideas being implemented in Minnesota are the product of months of meetings with religious and community leaders, government representatives, corporations and other private partners.
The program includes several elements. Among them, Big Brothers Big Sisters has developed a mentorship program for Somali youth, which is being funded by the Carlson Family Foundation, and Cargill Inc. is setting up a pilot youth leadership program.
“This is the right thing to do,” Luger said. “This is what community members asked us to do, and in some ways, demanded we do.”
Minnesota’s program is focused on the state’s large Somali community, which has been a target for terror recruiters; roughly 22 men left the state since 2007 to join al-Shabab in Somalia, and roughly a dozen people have left in recent years to join jihadist groups in Syria. Al-Shabab has led an Islamic insurgency in Somalia for the last eight years, and has stepped up attacks in recent months targeting African Union forces, government officials and foreigners.
So far, more than $850,000 in public and private funding has been secured for countering terror recruiting in Minnesota, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. That includes $216,000 in federal funds for the pilot program, and $250,000 in state money that has been allocated for similar efforts. The private funding includes money from the owners of the Mall of America, Luger said.
A nonprofit group called Youthprise, which invests in opportunities for young people, will allocate money that’s not already designated to a specific part of the program, leaving Luger’s office out of the financial process. Wokie Weah, president of Youthprise, said she anticipates her organization will begin accepting requests for project proposals in January.
The pilot program was dubbed Countering Violent Extremism by the Justice Department but renamed Building Community Resilience in Minnesota. To address some of the concerns about the program, Luger signed a memorandum of understanding in May that said the program would not be used to collect intelligence. His office also set up a Somali task force to lead the project….