Minnesota Senator Al Franken appeared on WCCO’s Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy yesterday to talk about the Paris massacres. WCCO has posted an unembeddable video under the heading “Franken talks on Paris attacks, fight against ISIS.” It also posted here on Facebook with unamused comments.
Minnesota has sent more residents to fight with ISIS than any other of the 50 states. When it comes to supplying ISIS with foreign fighters, we’re number one. The Minnesotans leaving Minnesota to join ISIS are mostly Somali residents and citizens. The Somali community is accordingly a substantial concern to state and federal law enforcement authorities.
Six “Minnesota men,” as they are called, were indicted this past April in connection with attempts to join ISIS. The indictments grew out of a 10-month investigation into a network of Somali-Americans interested in supporting the jihad.
Events in Paris naturally raise concerns about what might happen here in Minnesota. Murphy asked Franken:
Esme Murphy: What about the situation here in Minnesota? No other state has had as many young people try or actually go over and fight for ISIS. Are we safe here? Are you assured that the federal government is doing as much as they can to protect us here in Minnesota?
This was Franken’s halting, garbled response (my transcription):
Senator Franken: Well, this recruitment of Somali Minnesotans has been something that I’ve been dealing with since I first got to the Senate when they were being recruited to go to Somalia and fight with Shabab. This is a very, very small number of young men and women. Each one is a tragedy for their [sic] family. It’s dangerous, you know, for us, especially if they’re allowed to return, which we don’t allow unless we are tracking them….um…but the large, vast majority of Somali Minnesotans are as against this as every other American.
That’s what the man said. What did he mean when he said, “It’s dangerous, you know, for us, especially if they’re allowed to return, which we don’t allow unless we are tracking them”? Murphy didn’t ask and I don’t know. I don’t have a clue, and I don’t think Franken does either.