National Press Club

Somalis Tell of Terrorist Groups Recruiting U.S. Immigrants

May 20, 2009 | By Peter Hickman

Representatives of the Minneapolis-based Somali Justice Advocacy Center told a May 20 Newsmaker of some of the methods used by terrorist groups in Somalia to recruit young Somali immigrants in the U.S. to return home where some are assumed to become involved in piracy and terrorist activities.

Somalia has been without an effective government for several years, and some observers think the piracy issue results, at least in part, from the lack of law and order in the country and a strong Al Qaeda influence there.

Omar Jamal, executive director of the SJAC, and Abdullah Farah of the center said the recruiters are financed from Saudi Arabia, Libya and other Middle East sources, and that they conduct fund-raising activities in Minneapolis-area mosques.

Their techniques, they said, include promises of money, power and a glamorous life back home. Jamal said he knew of at least one young Somali from Minnesota who was involved in a suicide bombing.

He also said his organization and others had been told by local Somali groups not to cooperate with the FBI, CIA or other U.S. government agencies when asked for information on Somali-related recruiting or terrorist activities.

Jamal said the U.S. was well aware of the deteriorating situation in Somali for many years but did not become more concerned about it until Osama bin Laden became active in the country.