January 28, 2009

FBI concerned about Somali jihadists in America

An update of this story. Last month an FBI officer, Andy Young, visited a Liberian community meeting. The meeting was to discuss the shooting death of a local teenager, but the FBI officer was there to ask the community about the Somalis in their neighborhood.

Since the disappearance of 20 Somalis, who travelled to Somalia to train and fight with al Shabaab from the Minneapolis area, the FBI has growing concern that some of them might return to America. The FBI is also worried that some Somali-Americans might be persuaded to act as sleeper agents in the United States.

The FBI's concern is not without merit, Homeland Security received threats from al Shabaab about a possible terror attack on Barack Obama's inauguration. On inauguration day, a Somali resident alien from Minnesota was arrested at the US-Canada border in Detroit trying to sneak out of the US using his brother's passport. Also last week, 15 US residents were arrested in 2 separate incidences in Somaliland for suspicion of terrorism.

From the Christian Science Monitor

No, Agent Young said, he wasn’t there to bust anybody on immigration violations. He was there to dispel commonly held fears about the FBI. He knew, he said, that many in refugee-rich Clarkston came from countries where national security services were “snatching people in the middle of the night.” FBI agents are US public servants, he said, and “we are your friends.” His agents would be visiting churches and mosques all over Clarkston to listen to the community’s concerns.

But friendship, he said, carries “reciprocal obligations” – so he had a favor to ask. Although this was a gathering of – “Liberians, right?” – from the opposite side of Africa from Somalia, he wanted to ask their help making
contact with friends, neighbors, coworkers: Anyone who might be a leader of Atlanta’s Somali community.

Because Somali kids were disappearing. Not in Atlanta yet, that he knew of. But “six or seven high school kids,” former refugees resettled in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, the largest Somali community in the US, had recently been recruited by an extremist group through a mosque there and sent back to Somalia to train as suicide bombers.

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