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For several years the Somalia-based Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabab has been diligently recruiting new members in the United States, efforts that have produced both a disturbing and growing increase in the radicalization of young Somali-Americans.
When 19 year-old Somali-born Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested on November 27 for his failed attempt to blow up a van full of dummy explosives at a tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, some saw the influence of Al-Shabab.
However, law enforcement officials were quick to insist Mohamud had not been directed by any foreign terrorist organization, pointing out he had been the one to initiate contact with Al Qaeda recruiters in Pakistan in an effort to join its jihadist movement.
While no connection to Al-Shabab apparently exists, it certainly wasn’t an implausible conclusion to draw, given the series of arrests this year alone of Somali-Americans from all parts of the United States. Each were accused of supporting Al-Shabab from either here in the United States or by going overseas to fight in the terrorist group’s war against the provisional Somali government.
In fact, Mohamud’s apprehension comes directly on the heels of the November 15 arrest of Nimi Ali Yusuf, a 24 year-old Somali woman from San Diego, charged, along with three other Somali men, with providing Al-Shabab money and other assistance.
Their arrest follows the indictments in August 2010 of 14 Somali-Americans from Alabama, Minnesota and California on similar charges, which forced Attorney General Eric Holder to acknowledge the routing of fighters and money to Al-Shabab to constitute a “deadly pipeline.”
That pipeline began in earnest in 2006 when Al-Shabab, a brutal Taliban-like organization fighting to turn Somalia into an Islamist state ruled under Sharia law, began waging war against both Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and peacekeeping forces of the African Union.
Al-Shabab has been aided in this fight by the assistance of many al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists who have been using Somalia as a safe haven ever since the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan. The result of their help has allowed Al-Shabab to takeover most of southern and central Somalia, relegating the TFG to a narrow pocket of the Somalian capitol city of Mogadishu.
The other effect of housing so many foreign terrorists has been to turn Somalia into a beehive of terrorist activity, making it the top terror target in the world. According to terrorism analyst Thomas Mockaitis, “Somalia has become what Afghanistan was in the 1980s. It is a failed state and it’s a hotbed for [not only] conflict, but also the training and export of extremist activity.”
The exportation of Al-Shabab’s terrorist activity became official in February 2010 when the organization declared its alignment with al Qaeda and its quest for global jihad.
As Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Shangole, a top Al-Shabab leader said at that time, “ “The decisions included waging jihad (holy struggle) in the Eastern and Horn of Africa regions in order to liberate the Islamic communities and to link up our jihad to the global one, led by Al-Qaeda and Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.”
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