Minnesota, home to the largest Somali immigrant population in the U.S., has been an active target for terror recruiters, from Al-Shabaab – the al-Qaeda-affiliate in Somalia – to Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
They have, unfortunately been successful.
Somali terror recruiters first lured 20 men beginning in 2007. The effort continues through the present day, with authorities estimating between 50 and 60 Somalis have tried to leave Minnesota to join terror groups (a dozen have successfully joined ISIS in Syria). Most recently, nine young Somali men were arrested and convicted in Minnesota for trying to join ISIS.
Minnesota Somali-American activist Abdirizak Bihi, who dedicates his life to countering radicalization efforts by terror groups reaching out to Somali American, blamed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, for inhibiting his anti-radicalization work and the subsequent U.S. government investigations into the matter.
Bihi, who is the director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, publicly blasted CAIR for impeding FBI investigations into Al-Shabaab recruiting in Minnesota. “They say that I am a bad person, that I am anti-Muslim, and that I don’t represent a hundred percent the Somali community,” Bihi said.
Ironically, in 2014, Minnesota law-enforcement officials chose CAIR, along with other Muslim groups, to run a training seminar for them. The day-long seminar took place even though official Justice Department and FBI policy bans the use of CAIR as an outreach partner, since CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity named the Holy Land Foundation for financing Hamas.
A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood strategic memo stated its entities were engaged in “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” and the advancement of the Islamist political cause in America.
The Minnesota chapter of CAIR is known to have used Hamas-linked individuals for fundraising. Its 2012 fundraiser had Hussein Khatib, a regional director for the Holy Land Foundation, as master of ceremonies.
FBI field offices were ordered in July 2008 to begin “refraining from participating in any CAIR-sponsored events, avoiding being photographed with leaders of CAIR, and not engaging with CAIR in events such as fundraisers.”
By 2009, the FBI stopped using CAIR altogether as an outreach partner to “ensure that the FBI is not supporting individuals who support extremist or terrorist ideologies.” It cited evidence linking CAIR to Hamas in making the decision.
Minnesota law enforcement ignored the judgments of the FBI, Justice Department and countless counter-terrorism experts in partnering with CAIR. A law enforcement seminar also included personnel from the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque, even though multiple attendees of the mosque joined Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The first American suicide bomber, Shirwa Ahmed, went to the mosque.
One mosque attendee, Cabdulaahi Faarax, was an Al-Shabaab recruiter who held teleconferences with the terrorist group from the mosque. Another Al-Shabaab member who committed a suicide bombing, Faraah Beledi, was a volunteer and speaker at the mosque.
A former member of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia says he came to Minnesota after abandoning the cause and was shocked when one of his sons began being radicalized at the mosque.
His son started questioning whether the U.S. was an enemy and the former jihadi learned that the mosque was hosting lectures via satellite from a radical cleric in Kenya named Sharif Mohamed Umal that his son attended.
FOX 9 News substantiated his story by viewing an iPod from another Somali-American teenager that attended the mosque and left to join al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia. The device included a lecture by Umal.
Bihi said Umal was “laying down the bricks of radicalization.”
In September 2016, a terrorist wounded nine people at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota before he was killed by an off-duty police officer. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by a 22-year old of Somali origin.
The terrorist asked victims if they were Muslim, stabbing them if they were not.
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