A Minnesota connection to the Nairobi attack?

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, numbering at least 32,000. If it takes a village, we have a couple.

Yet we know amazingly little about the Somali community, probably because we are afraid to ask the relevant questions. We know they are mostly Muslim — we can see the hijabs, we are familiar with the many local controversies to which their faith has given rise over the past 10 years — but are they loyal residents or citizens of the United States? In the conflict between the United States and the Islamist forces with which we are contending, whose side are they on? I wrote about a local trial involving Somali Minnesotans brought up on terrorism charges in “Message from Mogadishu” and several other posts.

Minnesota’s large Somali community has been a fruitful source of new recruits to Somalia’s al Shabab terrorist group. Peter Bergen mentions the case of Shirwa Ahmed in his current CNN column on al Shabab. Over the past five years the Minnesota office of the FBI may have devoted more resources to investigating the Minneapois-to-Mogadishu connection than to any other case, but I don’t believe it has solved the case. It remains a mystery and we have reason to be concerned that the departed may choose to return on unfriendly terms.

Al Shabab is responsible for the ongoing terrorist attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack has left dozens dead. The New York Times reports that the Kenyan government appears ready to storm the terrorists holed up in the mall.

At the same time, CNN is reporting on Twitter that two of the terrorists are from Minnesota and one from Kansas City. I’ll leave the Minnesota connection a question at the moment, but it really should be enough to make one wonder whether the immigration spigot should remain wide open while the FBI struggles to get to the bottom of the al Shabab pipeline from Minneapolis to Mogadishu.

UPDATE: CNN has published this September 23 story reporting the unconfirmed presence of Somali Americans among the al Shabab terrorists.

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