View Full Version : Jihad draws young men across globe back to Somalia

12-02-2009, 12:56 PM
(What would be nice here at SOS is a page called terrorist acts)

Jihad draws young men across globe back to Somalia
By James Walsh and Richard Meryhew
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 2, 2009
http://www.startribune.com/local/77817097.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD 3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUss

They slipped away quietly, not telling family or friends where they were going or why.

Days later, the young Somali men turned up in their homeland to bear arms with Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaida. Counterterrorism officials worried that they might return to carry out an attack on U.S. soil.

A year ago, that was the disturbing scenario unfolding in Minneapolis. It spurred the largest federal anti-terrorism investigation since Sept. 11, and investigators spent months connecting the dots to determine who recruited about 20 local Somalis to jihad.

Now it's clear that the Twin Cities disappearances were far from an isolated case.

From Sweden to Australia, officials are beginning to grapple with the reality that young Somalis in their countries have been doing the same thing.

Dozens of Somali men from Great Britain reportedly received terrorist training in Somalia during the past year, with some returning recently to London. Twenty more left Stockholm in the past six months to join the Islamist insurgency in Somalia. A handful have been killed.

Last spring, four Australian citizens were arrested and charged with plotting to attack an army barracks after at least some were trained in Somalia. In the past few weeks, six young Somali men slipped away from their homes in Toronto, flagging officials worldwide that efforts to feed jihad in Somalia with Somalis living abroad have not stopped, and were not limited to the United States.

'The fact that it's overseas, I think, just says it's bigger than anybody imagined,' said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism specialist at Georgetown University. 'Every dimension of it seems to be larger and more complex than we originally assumed. More youths went than we originally thought. It's more clear that there is an Al-Qaida link with Al-Shabaab than initially assumed. And it's not just Somali youths from America who are going there. It's every dimension.'

Fear in Toronto

In Toronto, families still await word on where their sons have gone, said Ahmed Gure, who owns the Somali website Hiraan Online.

One young man called his family to say he was in Kenya, but gave no other details. All of the families fear their boys have followed the Minneapolis example, Gure said.

Unlike Minneapolis, where community activists representing parents of the missing spoke out for answers, parents in Toronto have not spoken publicly, deferring to mosque officials, he said.

A statement on the website of a Toronto mosque where many of the missing men prayed urged people to come forward with information about their disappearance.

Canadian intelligence officials would not comment on their investigation. But Stewart Bell, a counterterrorism reporter with the National Post in Toronto, said investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are canvassing the Somali community for information.

In a recent interview with the National Post, Peter Van Loan, Canada's public safety minister, said: 'Speaking in general terms, I find it very alarming that people who are Canadians who grew up in this country with all of the benefits and freedom that we have would then potentially choose to go elsewhere and turn against their country.'

Special agent E.K. Wilson of the Minneapolis FBI office said officials in Canada, Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere have been working with the FBI, tapping the agency's longer experience with Al-Shabaab.

'We know that they've got some similar concerns,' Wilson said.

Recent indictments of eight more Minnesota Somalis on terror-related charges were announced, bringing the total charged to 14. Six men from Minnesota have been killed in fighting in Somalia.

Motives for going

The reasons why some young Somalis are returning to join Al-Shabaab are complex and ever changing, counterterrorism experts say.

Documents recently filed in federal court in Minneapolis indicate the first wave of Twin Cities men to leave for Somalia in December 2007 was inspired by the occupation of their homeland by Somalia's archrivals -- the Ethiopians. Some saw themselves as patriots.

James Ostgard, an attorney representing a local Somali who has pleaded guilty to terror-related charges, has said that the sales pitch used on young Somalis who left after mid-2008 likely changed.

By spring 2008, Al-Shabaab controlled much of the country and was designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization with ties to Al-Qaida. By late 2008, the Ethiopians were pulling out.

Still, young Somalis from the Twin Cities and around the world were heading back to the war zone. That fall, investigators discovered that Somalis from the United States were carrying out acts unrelated to driving out Ethiopians.

Foremost was the October 2008 suicide bombing by Shirwa Ahmed, 26, of Minneapolis, who drove a truck bomb into an intelligence headquarters in the port town of Bosasso, part of coordinated attacks that killed 20 people.

To counterterrorism experts, it was evidence that motives had expanded beyond the fight with Ethiopians. Recruiters knew it, too, Hoffman said.

'The people recruiting them are skilled at this, and they will use the messages they think will be most effective and they are going to tailor those messages to different people,' he said. 'It may be patriotic motives, it may be some purpose in life [the recruit is] not finding otherwise. It may be rebels with a cause. A good recruiter will identify whatever will work with that person.'

After Ahmed's death, he added, 'it became jihad and not patriotism. Even if people went over for patriotic motives, once you get involved in suicide attacks, this goes beyond patriotism or hatred toward Ethiopians.'

Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College in North Carolina, agrees: 'To the extent people are still being recruited to Shabaab from other countries, I think they'd be more likely now than pre-March of 2008 to have fairly strong pro-Al-Qaida leanings, because that is how Shabaab has branded itself in the past year.'

Not over yet

Somali immigrants have been returning to the homeland ever since civil war erupted nearly 20 years ago. Some go to see family, others to conduct business, relatively few to train to fight with Al-Shabaab.

'In the eyes of true Somalis, Al-Shabaab doesn't have much legitimacy,' said Cawo Samatar, a Somali sociology professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied the Somali diaspora. 'They terrorize people. And they terrorize Somalis more than they terrorize anybody else. ... So it's very difficult to grasp what would convince a young man in Toronto or Ottawa or Minneapolis, for that matter, to go and fight.'

Hoffman suspects the flow of Somalis to fight for jihad may have been slowed -- but not stopped -- by recent revelations about their fate there.

'I was amazed after all the attention focused on Somali-Americans going over there that someone still had the temerity to sneak people out' of Toronto, he said. 'I don't think it's over yet.'

12-02-2009, 01:53 PM
Thanks REWHBLCAIN for the suggestion. Well see what could be done.

12-03-2009, 03:34 AM
Thanks REWHBLCAIN for the suggestion. Well see what could be done.

Ya it's so not PC every place you turn.