A new wave of Somali Americans has returned to the strife-torn African nation to join the jihad there, a Nairobi investigative reporter finds American law enforcement officials say they knew nothing about it.
Patrick Poole of Pajamas Media (PJM) highlights Nairobi Star reporter Fatuma Noor's series on the Somalis, which provide direct evidence of new recruits from Minnesota and Ohio traveling to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. In late 2007, more than 20 Somali-American men - most from the Twin Cities area - are believed to have joined the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group.
Noor's story began with a call from Sophia Ahmed, a Minneapolis woman concerned that her 18-year-old son Nuno was planning to go to war-ravaged Mogadishu. Noor recently met Nuno Ahmed at a Nairobi restaurant, and he subsequently later introduced her to a group of nine other young men, ranging in age from 17 to 24, who left the United States and Europe to wage jihad.
They traveled through Nairobi and were directed to a secret location where arrangements would be made for their trip to Mogadishu.
"We came to Nairobi just like any other American citizen. None of the officials at the airport suspected anything," said another Somali-American jihadist, Abdirahman Gullet of Minnesota.
This was news to the FBI. "This is the first we're hearing about it," an FBI official told Poole.
The latest wave of departures "represents a complete and utter breakdown in our outreach to the Somali community," said another. "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….Everyone in the Muslim community who vilified [Rep.] Peter King and the House Homeland Security Committee who tried to look into this problem owed them a major apology."
Noor's stories chronicle the young men's journeys to radicalization.
Adan Hussein, a 24-year-old from Minneapolis, came to the United States after his father was killed in Mogadishu in 1993. While studying information technology at a private college near his home, Hussein began to hear from friends who had already gone to Somalia to join the jihad. He said they regaled him with stories about how al-Shabaab was "saving lives" in Somalia.
Hussein said he and his friends attended a mosque where one of the elders would travel to Somalia and return to describe how the United States "was helping Ethiopia to kill our families" still living in Somalia.
Hussein denied having been brainwashed by mosque elders. "The mosque is just a meeting place. Coming back to fight for our home is our own free world," he said. "We are protecting our religion and our reward is in heaven."
But elders paid the travel costs involved with getting to Somalia, he said.
Another Somali-American, Abikar Mohamed of Minneapolis, told Noor that another group of recruits was coming from California, Minnesota, Norway and Sweden.