When it comes to recruiting ISIS fighters in the US, this state wins hands down

There are Muslim enclaves all over the country, many in big cities. But there are also concentrations of Muslims in the suburbs outside of Detroit, the Kentucky countryside...and Minneapolis, MN.

The State Department began an agressive Somali refugee resettlement program back in the 1990's, choosing Minneapolis as a prime destination because "it’s the closest thing in the United States to a true social democratic state.” Generous welfare benefits and access to money and services supplied by charities attacted Somali refugees from all over the country to settle there.

Today, terrorist recruitment of young Muslims in the Somali community has drastically picked up as 26% of Muslims who leave the US to fight for ISIS and al-Qaeda are from Minnesota.

Scott Johnson writing in The Weekly Standard:

In a presentation to Minnesota’s National Security Society last month, FBI Minneapolis chief division counsel Kyle Loven conveyed the impression that his office is devoting substantial resources to terrorism-related issues. “We have four national security squads working this thing,” he said.

The April charges against six Minnesota men represented the culmination of a 10-month FBI investigation. The charges and the FBI affidavit setting forth the basis for them strongly suggest the existence of an ISIS recruiting network aimed at or operating in the Twin Cities. The FBI affidavit details the recruitment of individuals and provision of assistance to those who want to leave Minnesota to fight abroad. According to an unnamed local FBI informant, ISIS recruiter Abdi Nur (formerly of Minnesota) “may have a trusted contact in Mexico who could provide false passports to those members of the conspiracy interested in traveling from the Twin Cities to Syria from Mexico.” (Nur hasn’t been heard from recently and may have been killed.)

Somali Minnesotans have been the focus of law enforcement concern for nearly 10 years. 

The Department of Justice acknowledges that since 2006, “overseas terror organizations” have targeted Twin Cities residents to join al Shabaab (an al Qaeda-allied group in Somalia) and ISIS. Over five years ending in 2011, Operation Rhino targeted al Shabaab recruiting in Minnesota and resulted in the indictment of 20 individuals. Since 2013, according to the Department of Justice, ISIS has targeted “Twin Cities residents” (i.e., Somalis). The Minneapolis division of the FBI and local law enforcement authorities devote substantial resources to deterring and interrupting the recruitment of Minnesota Somalis.

In the case of the six men, law enforcement benefited from an informant. In his October presentation, the FBI’s Loven queried how long law enforcement will be able to count on such informants. Loven highlighted the increasing difficulty of tracking the radicalization of individuals online given the evolution of social media and the growing use of encrypted communications. “We are behind the eight ball when it comes to online communication,” he said.

This is a Muslim problem that must be solved by Muslims themselves. To date, there doesn't appear to be much coordination - or desire - to address this growing threat in the Somali Muslim community. 

Meanwhile, the FBI is hamstrung by a lack of personnel to watch as carefully as they should. The problem - not just in Minneapolis - is outpacing our ability to deal with it. That must change or tragedy will almost certainly be the result.


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