At Ground Zero in Minnesota

We’ve got a problem in the Twin Cities that is based in our large and still growing population of Somali immigrants. Minnesota’s Somali community — a/k/a “Minnesotans” — is the most fertile ground in the United States for the recruitment of terrorists by foreign terrorist organizations in Africa and the Middle East. The Islamic State is only the latest terrorist group to zero in on Minnesota to expand its ranks, for example, and IS has achieved some success in the recruitment efforts. In Minnesota, we’re a tad concerned the recruited “Minnesotans” might choose to return home if they don’t get killed first.

The Star Tribune has two reporters working the story in “Slick video, social media lure Minnesotans to Middle East.” Law enforcement is on the case, but an unsolved mystery is crimping their efforts:

The FBI is confronting a propaganda behemoth that grows with every click. “It’s a free-for-all,” said FBI Agent E.K. Wilson, who has tracked the waves of Somali youth leaving Minnesota to fight overseas since the first ones headed for Somalia in 2007.

He says online recruitment aims to sell youth on achieving a romanticized purpose in life.

“This is an adventure and this is what you should be doing and you’ll be a hero and eventually you’ll be a martyr,” Wilson said of the message.

But what motivates a Somali teenage boy in Minnesota to trade a relatively comfortable life for an unknown fate continues to baffle authorities.

“That’s a question we’ve been asking for six years,” Wilson said. “And that’s a question that the vast majority of the Somali community — the leadership in that community — has been asking. Life is good here. And most of these kids don’t realize what they have because they don’t remember or they’ve never been there.”

What motivates the Somalis who decamp from Minnesota to join the other side? In the Age of Obama — note Wilson’s reference to “six years” — that has become a mystery beyond unraveling by the FBI, at least for public consumption:

When Wilson first began investigating the recruitment of Minnesota Somalis by the Al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia — Al-Shabab — the main appeal was patriotism, defending the motherland from invading Ethiopia.

Today, the call to western youth to come fight in Syria and Iraq is based on religious duty; they’re told they must come help establish an Islamic caliphate governed by a radical interpretation of Islamic law.

“It does raise it to a more mature and radical level,” Wilson said.

The Star Tribune reporters appear to be making progress unraveling the motivation of these “Minnesotans.” They could lend Wilson a hand. I’m afraid, however, that it has already been determined in advance for the FBI that Islamic terrorism — it’s not Islamic.

The forecast (my forecast) is for trouble ahead. As the Somali community in Minnesota continues to grow and the authorities working the case continue to keep their hands over their eyes, Minnesota will remain at Ground Zero for the foreseeable future.


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