A Minneapolis man, Omer Abdi Mohamed, is scheduled to go on trial next week in federal court on charges that he aided a group of young American Somali men in their travels to Somalia to fight with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab terrorist organization. Two of the men that Mohamed helped leave the country conducted suicide bombings, the most recent last month which I reported on exclusively here at PJMedia. In fact, over the past few years more than two dozen Somali men from the U.S. are known to have left for the fields of jihad in Somalia.
But just as that trial is about to begin we can report exclusively here at PJMedia that a new batch of al-Shabaab recruits from Minnesota and Ohio have left the country to join the terrorist group.
Confirmation of this new crop of al-Shabaab recruits comes from award-winning Kenyan journalist Fatuma Noor, who met up with the ten new recruits ranging in age from 17 to 24 years old in Nairobi and then Northern Kenya as they were on their way to cross the border into Somalia. Noor just won the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist award for 2011 for her past work interviewing Western al-Shabaab recruits. In her current three-part series in the Nairobi Star, she also recounts her travel with the recruits to the Somali border, and how she was almost killed by al-Shabaab in Somalia for violating Islamic law by traveling without a chaperone with men who were not her relatives (only to be saved by the al-Shabaab recruits).
In her article, Noor identifies some of the American Somalis in the group:
- Nuno Ahmed from Minneapolis, who says that he’s joining al-Shabaab because “young people like me are needed there to protect our country.”
- Abikar Mohamed from Minneapolis, who states that “we are here to protect Islam and we are going to do that at all cost.”
- Abdirahman Gullet from Minneapolis, who took inspiration from his friend Burhan Hassan and Shirwa Ahmed, both of whom died with al-Shabaab (Burhan while fighting with the group, Ahmed in a suicide bombing).
- Adan Hussein from Minneapolis, who acknowledges that he “might die protecting my religion, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.” He also says that their trips were funded by some of their community elders.
- Abdinassir Osman from Ohio, who graduated from high school and joined a gang and now hopes his service with al-Shabaab will make up for any past wrongs he may have made.
- Ali Mohamud from Ohio, who decided to join up after listening to stories and exhortations from his mosque elders.
They were joined by at least three other Somalis from other countries:
- Omar Hassan from Canada, who claims that al-Shabaab in not a terrorist group but committed Muslims who are dedicated to ensuring Islamic law is observed in all Somalia.
- Khalif Abdi from Sweden, who states that his desire to join al-Shabaab is rooted in his belief that the West is in a conspiracy to get rid of Islam as a religion.
- Mukhtar Abdi from Kenya, who believes it is his responsibility to ensure Islamic law is imposed in every Muslim-majority country.
This week I called several FBI field offices that regularly handle Somali-related terrorism issues. I was told by one official, “This is the first we’re hearing about it.”
Another official said that this news “represents a complete and utter breakdown in our outreach to the Somali community”:
To have even more of these kids leave the country right under our noses without a word from the people we are working with who are supposed to be our eyes and ears means that all of this outreach over the past few years is a total failure. It doesn’t help that those we are working with are the ones recruiting these kids to go fight. … Everyone in the Muslim community and mainstream media who vilified [Rep.] Peter King and the House Homeland Security Committee who tried to look into this problem owe them a major apology.