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A recent suicide bombing by a Somali-American from Minnesota comes on the heels of 18 Somalis charged with recruiting young Somali-American men for al-Shabab, Somalia’s brutal Islamist terror group. Both incidents underscore the growing threat posed by al-Shabab’s pipeline into America’s Somali community.
According to al-Shabab leaders, 25-year-old Somali-American, Abdullahi Ahmed, detonated himself last week in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, killing two African Union peacekeeping troops in the process.
Ahmed was one of 20 Somali-Americans from Minnesota who disappeared in 2007. At the time, all of the men were suspected of having gone to Somalia to join al-Shabab in its fight against Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
Now, that question has been confirmed with the recent indictment of the 18 Somali men, 14 from Minnesota, charged with forming a plan to recruit young Somali men from the Minneapolis area to fight alongside al-Shabab.
According to one of the defendants, Omer Adbi-Mohamed, the Minnesota portion of the terror plot began around September 2007, when the conspirators formulated a recruitment plan that included such logistical issues as travel, use of safe houses, and weapons training. The men then solicited funds for the operation from the Minneapolis Somali community by telling people they were raising money to help relief efforts in Somalia.
Then in early 2008, Minnesota’s jihadist recruits were sent to an al-Shabab training camp in Somalia and provided further weapons training and indoctrination. Their first assignment upon graduation from the terror camp was to ambush a group of African Union peacekeeping soldiers. That assault was videotaped and made into a propaganda video that included one of the Minneapolis men making a speech in which he encouraged more Somalis to join their jihad.
Apparently, some of the American recruits proved more suitable as human explosives. While Abdullahi Ahmed was the latest human bomb, two other Minnesota Somalis suffered the same fates. They included Shirwa Ahmed, the first US citizen to undertake a suicide bombing, who killed himself and 22 others in a suicide attack in October 2008.
Minnesota’s Somali community of 30,000 — the largest in the United States — has become the epicenter of an ongoing federal investigation into its ties to al-Shabab. Prior to the indictment of the 18 Somali men was the arrest in April 2011 of two Somali women from Minnesota, Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan.
Both women have been charged with raising funds for al-Shabab through fraudulent appeals to the Somali community in which they requested funds they said were intended for humanitarian purposes, but which were instead transmitted to al-Shabab in Somalia.
However, it should come as little surprise that al-Shabab has an ardent following among some Somali-Americans. A new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center has found Somali-Americans to represent 31 percent of the 57 Americans charged or convicted of Islamic terrorism crimes in the United States and abroad since January 2009.
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