February 24, 2009

FBI: Somali Suicide Bomber Indoctrinated, Recruited in US

Shirwa_Ahmed_somalia_jihad.jpgWhere are young American Muslims indoctrinated to become mass murdering jihadis? In the madrasas of Pakistan? In al-Mecca's Salafist universities? Nope, Minneapolis:

The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, said Monday that a Somali-American man who was one of several suicide bombers in a terrorist attack last October in Somalia had apparently been indoctrinated into his extremist beliefs while living in the United States.

The man, Shirwa Ahmed [shown right], was the first known suicide bomber with American citizenship. He immigrated with his family to the Minneapolis area in the mid-1990s, Mr. Mueller said, but he returned to Somalia after he was recruited by a militant group.

It appears that this individual was radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota,” Mr. Mueller said, speaking at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. Minneapolis claims the country’s largest Somali population.

I think one of the stereotypes some have is that young Muslims are sent away to become radicalized. When, in fact, there are plenty of radicals right here among us preaching violent jihad.

The internet, of course, makes this radicalization process even easier. The distance between, say, the new favorite preacher of English first jihadis, Anwar al Awlaki, and some kid in New York is minimized. One need not go on the hunt for mosques preaching the kind of Salaafism even the Saudis find distasteful when people like al Awlaki can be welcomed directly into your home.

More than that, the internet provides a community of like believers. And what Friend Finder is to socially awkward singles, jihadi forums are to young Muslims looking to "hook up" with others like them.

But there are better example than Shirwa Ahmed of the homegrown jihadi phenomenon. In Ahmed's case one might make a good argument that although he was radicalized here in the US, that his radicalization took place in the context of a what is essentially a foreign community: the Somali diaspora.

Ruben Shumpert [shown right] (aka, "Amir Abdul Muhaimin" called a "martyr" on Shabaab's official website) was a Seattle convert to Islam, killed on the jihad fields of Somalia. Or how about Daniel Maldonado (aka "Daniel Aljughaifi"), a native born American who converted to Islam, became an active administrator at a popular online Muslim youth forum, and who is now sitting in a federal prison for receiving weapons training from al Qaeda in Somalia.

Another famous homegrown jihadi? Adam Gadahn. He didn't become jihad supporter after he went to Pakistan. He was radicalized in suburban Orange County and only later went to Pakistan where he eventually hooked up with al Qaeda.

The jihadis are here, you just have to know where to look to find them.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:20 AM | Comments |