The Somalian terrorist group al-Shabaab has released yet another recruitment video. If you go on YouTube, you will find many of their videos, aimed at enticing young men to fly to Mogadishu and join the terrorist organization.
Perhaps the strangest case of recruitment was a young man named Troy Kastigar who was half white and half Native American. The young man had no ethnic ties to Somalia, yet the recruiters were so savvy that they convinced him to fight, and die for their cause. Minneapolis locals who knew Kastigar said that the last time they had seen him locally, he had converted to Islam, changed his name to Abdirahman, and was wearing traditional Islamic gear. Before Kastigar died in battle in Somalia, he participated in one of the recruitment videos, encouraging other Minneapolis youth to follow in his footsteps, and calling their violent environment, “The True Disneyland.” For more information, see the following links-
Obviously Kastigar was a unique case. All of the other recruits were of Somalian heritage, although many of them had been born here and had never even visited their homeland before they made the commitment to al-Shabaab. Even more curious is the fact that some of these recruits appeared to have bright futures here in Minnesota. One mother was shocked that her son joined al-Shabaab because he was an intelligent young man who had graduated with a degree in engineering. Like many of the other recruits, he simply disappeared one day, then called his mother from Somalia to let her know where he was and that he was okay. She was baffled as to why he had gone there, and heartbroken when she saw news footage of him dead after being shot in the head in a al-Shabaab battle. For more information, see the following link-
All of these cases might make one question what it is that these recruiters could possibly offer to young men that would make them want to leave their family here and risk their lives in Somalia. According to local Somalian activists, the recruiters offer these young men a mission and a feeling of importance. In addition to buying the young men costly items, these recruiters also give them military titles while they are still in Minneapolis. They are told that when they return to their homeland they will be treated with respect, and that they will no longer be outsiders. This tactic alone could lure many adolescents and twenty-something men who feel like misfits and want a sense of belonging.
At least one local group is working to combat this recruitment and to help young Somalians develop into productive members of society. Ka Joog, which loosely translates to “stay away,” or “stay out,” is a local non-profit organization that centers on youth. Ka joog uses poetry and the visual arts to help young Somalians express themselves and create a vision for their future in Minnesota. For more information about Ka Joog, see the following links-
Other Somalian groups have joined together to renounce al-Shabaab, and to say that its terrorist ideals do not represent the views of most Somalians. For more information, see the following link
So far, we know that some of the al-Shabaab recruits from Minneapolis have been involved in suicide bombings as well as the recent attack on a shopping mall in Kenya. Unfortunately, extreme violence such as this is really nothing new in areas where Islamic terrorists have taken hold. For most Minnesotans, news footage of events like these is tragic, but doesn’t strike resonance as something we personally have to worry about. Yet with al-Shabaab continuing to be successful in recruiting large numbers of young men from Minneapolis, there is a real worry that some of these men might go to Somalia to get the training, then come back to the United States with a perfectly valid passport as a U.S. citizen and carry out a terrorist attack here. As one agent from the FBI has said, “These are the things that keep us up at night.”
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