There are several news stories making the rounds today expressing great surprise that young Muslim men who reside in Minnesota – particularly those having ties to the state’s substantial Somali community – are fighting for the Islamic State terrorist organization (aka “ISIS” or “ISIL”). Two Minnesota Muslims have reportedly been killed. What surprises me is that anyone is surprised. In my 2010 book on the Muslim Brotherhood, The Grand Jihad, I devoted a chapter to the Islamic supremacist infiltration of Minnesota. Even then, that infiltration was marked by ties to al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a concerted effort to implement sharia principles in U.S. law and institutions, including the classroom and the economy. The chapter is reproduced below.
The questions came rat-tat-tat at this townhall meeting for Amy Klobuchar. A member of Minnesota’s hard Left Democratic Farm Labor Party, she was campaigning as the Democrats’ nominee for the United States Senate. Her answers sounded like babble, or perhaps clipped laughter: Haa, haa, haa. But she wasn’t laughing. Klobuchar was speaking Somali.
And she was saying “yes”: Yes to “comprehensive immigration reform”; yes to foreign language programs; yes to helping Somali money-service businesses that her constituents used to send the American dollars they learned back “home”; yes to meeting regularly with the Somali community so they could monitor that she was producing on the commitments that, absolutely haa, she was making.
The two hundred Somalis in the audience seemed pleased. They were no doubt happier still when Klobuchar won in a landslide. She rode the same wave that carried Keith Ellison into Congress. Another Farm Labor Party member, Ellison became the first Muslim to sit in the House of Representatives. He credited his victory to the enthusiastic support of Somalis. He took the oath of office, swearing on the Koran, to represent Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. In that district lies the entire City of Minneapolis. It is the Muslim enclave.
The local Somali population that has been estimated at 100,000, representing somewhere between half and two-thirds the the total number of Somalis now living in the United States. There may be many more. The actual population size is unknowable because of rampant illegal immigration, widespread identity and documentation fraud, and what the FBI gingerly describes as “a cultural reluctance to share personal information with census takers [that] has prevented an accurate count of the ethnic Somali population inside the United States.”
Somalis began pouring into America in the mid-Nineties thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement efforts, such as the “Africa Priority Three Program” that gives special attention to Somalis, Ethiopians and Liberians. These initiatives were robust and incompetently supervised. They targeted dire African countries without any evident concern about cultural differences that made assimilation unlikely. In 2008, State was forced to concede that there had been immigration fraud on a massive scale: nearly 40,000 aliens admitted into our country after falsely claiming family ties to immigrants already here. If Klobuchar delivers on her promises to push for an immigration “reform” package that would not just legalize aliens who are here unlawfully but streamline the process for importing their chains of family members, the numbers could increase geometrically.
The Somalis are the dominant Islamic group in Minnesota, but hardly the only one. As we’ve seen [in a previous chapter on Congressman Ellison], CAIR was a prominent player in Ellison’s campaign, which appealed to Muslims across the board, including American- and Arab-born Muslims, as well as to the Islamists’ reliable allies on the Left. But the Somalis are an especially potent, aggressive force. That is the case here as it is in their war-torn homeland, where life-expectancy for men is less than forty-eight years (for women, it hovers just above fifty-one), where the dead-end of Islamism is thriving, and where the scourge of piracy is again on the rise.
Besides Minneapolis, insular Somali communities have sprung up in Seattle, San Diego, Columbus, Atlanta, and—it almost goes without saying—Washington. There are other pockets throughout the country. The Tennessee town of Shelbyville is one. Hundreds of Somalis found work there in the local Tyson’s Chicken plant, and two were soon elected to the union’s eight-member board. When it came time for a new collective bargaining agreement to be struck in 2008, the union pressured the company to abandon Labor Day. In its place, the Somali workers demanded a Muslim holiday: the Eid (Eid ul-Fitr), which marks the end of Ramadan. The company capitulated, to much gnashing of teeth by the majority, non-Muslim employees.
It is in Minneapolis, though, where the greatest political and legal strides are being made by Somalis, and thus by Islamism. The Fifth District has become such a safe seat for Ellison that, on the campaign trail, he is more needed than in need. In 2008, he stumped vigorously for Al Franken’s Senate bid. During his Minneapolis appearances, by his side was Abdullahi Ugas Farah, described in one press account as a “highly regarded prominent Somali traditional leader”—which, my friend Diana West acidly observed, translates to “a Somali leader from Somalia, not Minnesota.” Farah urged the faithful that “in order for Keith to be helpful to the situation in Somalia, you must also elect Al Franken to the Senate.” That’s the job of the U.S. Congress, right? To fix the situation in Somalia.
What exactly is the situation in Somalia? Well, the failed state has been engulfed in a civil war for well over a decade, going back to the shattering “Black Hawk Down” days of the early Nineties. Islamists seek to take over the country and impose strict sharia law under the auspices of leadership known as the “Islamic Courts Union,” together with the local al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab (“the lads”). As Diana West found, Abdullahi Ugas Farah was one of two speakers who presided in 2003 over the opening ceremony for a new sharia court in Mogadishu’s Shirkole area. It was apparently a short distance from there to Democratic Party politics in Minneapolis. [ACM note: After ruling much of Somalia for a time, the Islamic Courts Union was driven from power by U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces, with many of its militant members formally joining their al-Shabaab allies. See Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio, “Shabaab fomally joins al Qaeda” (The Long War Journal, Feb. 9, 2012).]
Import Somali Aliens, Export Islamist Militants
In Somalia, the Islamist factions are linked to the al Qaeda cells that bombed the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. They also maintain ties with al Qaeda leaders in Northwest Pakistan. Somalia has thus become crucially important to bin Laden’s network as both a rich recruiting vein and a staging ground for regional and global terrorist operations—including strikes against the United States. Reciprocally, al Qaeda training has proved critical to the Somali Islamists. Recruits, who have often been led to Somalia from mosques or diverted there while on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, are steeped in Salafist ideology while being trained in military assault tactics and the use of machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and other explosives. Terror tactics apt to intimidate civilian populations are stressed. In late 2008, for example, Shabaab “produced a videotape depicting the slow decapitation of an accused spy,” according to the FBI.
Incorporating familiar al Qaeda tactics like simultaneous bombings (frequently using suicide attackers), the campaign has been frightfully successful. The Islamists took over much of Somalia in 2006 before being beaten back by U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces. By 2009, the Islamists had surged back as Ethiopia retreated under the usual pressure from “human rights” groups—ever notice how they always seem preternaturally interested in the humans doing the killing versus the humans being killed? Shabaab terrorists and the Islamic Courts Union seized much of the country’s south again, including the strategically important port city of Kismayo. (See here and here.) Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy, was moved to proclaim that Shabaab gains were “a step on the path of victory of Islam.”
The offensives had significant, U.S.-based help. Our Somali immigration pipeline, you see, is far from a one-way street. We not only import Somali aliens, including their “traditional leaders.” We also send back aspiring Islamist militants, including suicide bombers. Since 2006, the FBI has detected that many Somalis are returning to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab, and more are launched from Minneapolis than from any other U.S. haven.
Despite the extensive history of Muslims flocking to any “field of jihad” where Islamists are in combat, the Bureau was instinctively quick to rationalize that “the primary motivation” for their travel to Somalia was “to defend their place of birth [i.e., the place they couldn’t get out of fast enough] from the Ethiopian invasion.” But the criminal charges filed by the Justice Department tell a different story: one of a call to jihad that sounded in mosques from Minneapolis to Mecca. Thus, even the FBI has had to concede, however grudgingly, that “an appeal was also made based on their shared Islamic identity.” You don’t say? In fact, Somali Islamists have been bold in stressing their attachment to the global Islamist project. They’ve issued public statements of solidarity with their allies in al Qaeda’s rambunctious Yemeni satellite (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Moreover, on New Years Day 2010, a Somali Islamist in Denmark attempted to murder Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew one of the riot-inspiring depictions of Mohammed in 2005.
Shabaab recruitment drives have become intense in the United States and Canada. Some relatives of the young men who’ve gone missing from Minneapolis point to the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque as the catalyst that radicalized them. And then there is the familiar Muslim Brotherhood route. Omar Hammami grew up as a Baptist in Alabama before converting to Islam while studying at the University of South Alabama. He became president of the Muslim Students Association [the first building block in the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure], duly opposed “terrorism,” and was quick to express his “shock” at the time of the 9/11 attacks that “a Muslim could have done this.” In short order, though, the young American gravitated to Somali areas of Toronto before joining al-Shabaab, taking on the nom de guerre Abu Mansour al-Amriki. He is now a top Shabaab commander who regularly appears in recruiting videos, denouncing democracy and Western notions of human rights as being implacably set against sharia principles. (See here, here and here.)
The recruitment drive is taking its toll. Shirwa Ahmed, a twenty-seven-year old Somali who had lived with his family in Minneapolis, blew himself up at a UN checkpoint in 2008, killing twenty-nine people. In September 2009, another Somali immigrant left his Seattle community to return home and carry out a truck bombing in Mogadishu, killing twenty-one people. The case of Ahmed is especially grating. Thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement mania, he’d become a naturalized American citizen. So, after his mass-murder attack against U.S.-supported allies in northern Somalia, the FBI, at the expense of the American taxpayer, had his remains (which had become evidence in the Bureau’s terrorism-support investigation) transported back to America so he could be given a proper Islamic burial at “home.” (See here, here and here.)
To be fair, the Bureau, however ham-handedly, is trying to ingratiate itself within the community for intelligence purposes. The palpable fear of American and Canadian investigators is that the young men who leave North America with a jihadist fervor will return as trained, lethally capable terrorists, committed to carrying out terrorist strikes against the West. As David Harris, the former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service starkly puts it, “it is just a matter of time before someone who went abroad comes back to North America in an effort to carry out an attack.”