Minnesota’s extremely large (and largely Muslim) Somali community presents challenges in a number of respects. It is a high-volume consumer of welfare and social services. It raises the threat of terrorism and support for terrorism. Support for law enforcement to root out the terrorist threat is conspicuous by its absence. Efforts to root out the terrorist threat from within the community, ditto. Somali Minnesotans charged with terrorism related offenses are treated like favorite sons.
“Minnesota men” seeking to join ISIS were prominently featured in headlines around the country last year when terrorism charges against ten defendants were unveiled over the course of the year. A wealth of mind-boggling details is featured in the criminal complaints and related proceedings against these men, yet much of it has gone unnoticed in the media.
What is to be done? Well, if you’re a brain-dead Minnesota Democrat seeking means of support for a core constituency, money must be the answer. Thus the program that bears the mind-numbing Obama era euphemism Building Community Resilience. Under the nominal auspices of United States Attorney Andrew Luger, the program has been handed off by the United States Attorney to a Minnesota nonprofit called Youthprise. As NPR noted in its story on the program, Luger handed the program off to Youthprise when the local branch of CAIR complained about his involvement. You can’t be too sensitive.
Funded by United States taxpayers and Minnesota foundations, the program is to funnel as much as $1 million to support Minnesota’s Somali community. The memorandum of understanding between Luger and Minnesota Somali leaders reflects the wariness of Somali-Minnesotans. Read it here. It stipulates that the program will not be used for surveillance purposes by any law enforcement agency or by any person working for or on behalf of any law enforcement agency. My view is that we would be better off without Building Community Resilience.
Neither cash nor opportunity is in short supply among Minnesota’s Somalis. The six young Somali men charged in April 2015 attended local schools and/or had jobs. Indeed, one of the men told an FBI informant in a recorded conversation “that as long as he had a job, no one [would] suspect him of anything.” ISIS recruiter Abdi Nur attended a local community college and spoke of becoming a lawyer. (“Then he started visiting a new mosque and dressing in more traditional garb,” the New York Times reported in a profile of Nur by Scott Shane.)
In the case against the six, cash also flows to fund their big travel plans. One of the underlying FBI affidavits demonstrates the Somalis’ fine-grained knowledge of the multifarious financial resources available to them. The affidavit reveals that one of the men charged withdrew $5,000 in cash from his federal financial aid debit card in the weeks leading up to his attempted departure to join ISIS. Your taxpayer dollars at work.
The AP now provides this summary of the initial one-year grants just announced by Youthprise:
• Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota received $100,000 to enhance employment and educational opportunities for young Somalis. The program partners with a local mosque, the city and public school systems.
• Somali American Parent Association received $85,000 to partner with the youth group Ka Joog to implement a program that will engage young people, parents and families.
• Shanta Link received $35,000 to partner with African Immigration Community Services to address the stigma of mental illness among refugees.
• Ummah Project and its partner received $30,000 to train Somali-Americans ages 18 to 25 to work as mediators and restorative justice facilitators.
• Africa Reconciliation and Development Organization Inc. received $25,000 to prevent conflict in African diasporas. Funding will be directed to reconciliation programs, soccer and Somali arts classes for male students, ages 13 to 18.
• West Bank Athletic Club received $25,000 to conduct youth sports activities and hold communication sessions with parents.
Midnight basketball can’t be far behind.
The AP also notes the efforts to keep the money flowing:
Last month, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said he was working on additional funding, both federal and private. He pointed to a bill President Barack Obama signed into law in December that includes $50 million for efforts that combat terrorism as a possible source. Luger noted that $10 million of that appropriation is specifically for states’ efforts to prevent violent extremism, though it’s not yet known how much of that money will flow to Minnesota.
In a parallel effort, Minnesota lawmakers have also allocated $250,000 to programs designed to combat terror recruiting. The Department of Public Safety announced last month that it will soon start the process of awarding grants, with priority given to programs that will lead to long-term investment in communities most at risk. Meanwhile, House Democrats have also announced that they’ll push for another $2 million to dedicate to combatting terrorism in Minnesota.
Among my few printable thoughts this morning is the one captured by Junie B. Jones: Boom! Do the math.