FBI: Somalis leaving Minnesota to fight in Syria - New York News

FBI: Somalis leaving Minnesota to fight in Syria

Posted: Updated:
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The FBI says more Somali travelers have left Minnesota, possibly to fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria. Investigators believe those who left Minnesota were motivated by radical ideology, not nationalism.

SOURCE: 12 MINNESOTA SOMALIS HAVE LEFT FOR SYRIA

The FBI has not specified how many people are believed to involved, but a leader in the Minnesota Somali community told Fox 9 News a dozen men have left. The FBI confirmed they have "indications" that some recently traveled overseas. Now, they are reaching out to the large Somali population in Minnesota to learn more.

One young man -- a 20-year-old Somali college student -- left the Twin Cities as recently as last Thursday. He sent a text message to his family from Istanbul, Turkey, to say he was heading to Syria to fight in the holy war. 

If you know anyone who is planning to and/or has traveled to a foreign country for armed combat or who is being recruited for such activities, please contact www.fbi.gov/fttips or call (763) 569-8020. All information will be kept completely confidential.

RECENT SUICIDE BOMBING LINKED TO FLORIDA MAN

The request for tips comes about a week after an American from Florida died in a suicide bombing attack on Syrian government troops in the city of Iblib.

Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, 22, is believed to be the first U.S. citizen involved in a suicide bombing in the civil war's three-year history. His family thought he was in Jordan when he died.

MINNESOTA SOMALI COMMUNITY 'VULNERABLE'

Since 2007, at least 22 young men have left Minnesota to join al-Shabaab in Somalia. Some have died there, and some were even praised as "Minnesota Martyrs" in an elaborate video released last year. 

MORE: Video from al-Shabaab praises 3 Minn. travelers

Some of the so-called travelers were prosecuted for their role in what the FBI has described as one of the largest efforts to recruit U.S. fighters to a foreign terrorist organization, and community activist Abdi Bihi says his community is particularly vulnerable to such efforts due to a lack of jobs, programs and feeling like outsiders. 

"The key of this is the vastness of the vulnerability," he said.

According to Bihi, local Somalis have been talking about the Syrian conflict in recent days and he is worried that a radical element is trying to create a new pipeline of violence. 

"We are very concerned about this summer," Bihi told the Associated Press. "People are shocked. They used to talk about kids leaving from Europe (for Syria). Now, they started talking about here. ... It's insane."

NEW RECRUITING PUSH

In a way, the new travelers could mark a sort of second wave of recruits. Six years ago, Fox 9 News broke the story of 22 young men who traveled to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate. Now, the FBI believes al-Nusra, which is also linked to al-Qaeda, could be coming to call too -- but the former first secretary to the Somali mission to the UN says all of al-Qaeda's branches have the same roots.

"They all have the same mission. They all have the same agenda. The name doesn't make a heck of a difference," Omar Jamal told Fox 9 News. "If I joined al-Shabaab, it's like I joined al-Qaeda or al-Nusra."

Just last month, a new al-Shabaab recruiting video was released -- and it specifically mentioned Minnesota in a brazen pitch urging possible recruits to catch the next flight to Mogadishu.

"We have to team up with the FBI to help save our children from these crazy people," Jamal insisted.

Although it's unclear how individuals are being recruited in Minnesota, Jamal believes local recruiters could be calling the shots.

"It takes more than Internet access to convince someone to drop the books and go commit a suicide bombing," he said.

However, investigators don't believe Minneapolis is the only place where al-Nusra is fishing for fresh blood. Detectives believe young men are being recruited from parts of Europe and Canada as well, with most travelers making their way to Syria via Cairo or Istanbul.

While the FBI works to determine how the recruits are being courted, sources tell Fox 9 News many of the recruits had no money and no job -- and several of them did attend the same mosque. 

It's estimated that there are as may as 12,000 foreign fighters in Syria now, and there is almost no U.S. intelligence on the ground there anymore. That means there's almost no way of telling if the recruits plan to return to U.S. soil to continue their mission.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman struck, killed by Green Line train near U of M

    Woman struck, killed by Green Line train near U of M

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:23 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:23:30 GMT
    A woman was struck and killed by a Metro Transit Green Line light rail train near a University of Minnesota neighborhood on Sunday morning.
    A woman was struck and killed by a Metro Transit Green Line light rail train near a University of Minnesota neighborhood on Sunday morning.
  • 28 new foods at Minnesota State Fair in 2014

    28 new foods at Minnesota State Fair in 2014

    Wednesday, June 25 2014 2:57 PM EDT2014-06-25 18:57:53 GMT
    The Minnesota State Fair is adding 28 new foods to the already massive, artery-clogging list of 500 foods from 300 different vendors. New food include everything from a bacon-wrapped turkey leg and beer gelato to a shrimp dog and chocolate salami.
    The Minnesota State Fair is adding 28 new foods to the already massive, artery-clogging list of 500 foods from 300 different vendors. New food include everything from a bacon-wrapped turkey leg and beer gelato to a shrimp dog and chocolate salami.
  • Have you seen this missing Annandale, Minn. man?

    Have you seen this missing Annandale, Minn. man?

    Sunday, August 31 2014 1:45 PM EDT2014-08-31 17:45:05 GMT
    A 25-year-old Annandale man has been missing since Aug. 22, and while police aren't releasing many details, family members worry that foul play may be involved, so on Saturday, they did what they've done for the last several days -- they went looking for him.
    A 25-year-old Annandale man has been missing since Aug. 22, and while police aren't releasing many details, family members worry that foul play may be involved, so on Saturday, they did what they've done for the last several days -- they went looking for him.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Suspect, rookie officer both wounded in gunfire

    Suspect, rookie officer both wounded in gunfire

    Sunday, August 31 2014 10:11 PM EDT2014-09-01 02:11:38 GMT
    Authorities say an early morning gunfire exchange on a Brooklyn street has left the suspect hospitalized and a police officer with a graze wound.
    Authorities say an early morning gunfire exchange on a Brooklyn street has left the suspect hospitalized and a police officer with a graze wound.
  • New MTA bus routes take effect

    New MTA bus routes take effect

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:51:36 GMT
    MTAMTA
    The MTA has new bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. 
    The MTA has new bus routes throughout the 5 boroughs. 
  • 3 hurt in lightning strike as storms batter NYC area

    3 hurt in lightning strike as storms batter NYC area

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:47:41 GMT
    Heavy thunderstorms swept through the tri-state on Sunday causing flash floods and lightning strikes that injured 3 people. The three men were struck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Sunday afternoon and were being treated at a local hospital. Meanwhile, various Labor Day weekend celebrations were interrupted, delayed and even canceled as the U.S. Open tennis tournament had to be postponed and the Electric Zoo musical festival on Randall's Island had to be prematurely shut down.
    Heavy thunderstorms swept through the tri-state on Sunday causing flash floods and lightning strikes that injured 3 people. The three men were struck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx Sunday afternoon and were being treated at a local hospital. Meanwhile, various Labor Day weekend celebrations were interrupted, delayed and even canceled as the U.S. Open tennis tournament had to be postponed and the Electric Zoo musical festival on Randall's Island had to be prematurely shut down.
Widgets Magazine
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices