Al-Shabab supporters may potentially be entering the U.S. within the large groups of Somali refugees the Obama administration has admitted.
The al-Qaida terrorist affiliate al-Shabab, the group that massacred 147 people at a university in Kenya Thursday, has plenty of supporters living in the United States.
“I would think that we have seen some information that the leaders would like to undertake operations outside of Somalia,” FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2009, adding that he was “absolutely” concerned these young Americans would use their passports to return to the U.S. and carry out attacks on American soil.
“At least 50 U.S. citizens and permanent residents are believed to have joined or attempted to join or aid the group since ,” the Anti-Defamation League noted in a reported updated in February 2015.
According to the ADL these Americans and U.S. residents trained with recruits from other countries, including Britain, Australia, Sweden and Canada. They used their skills to fight against Ethiopian forces, African Union troops and the internationally supported Transitional Federal Government in Somalia.
Additionally, the majority of the American men who received jihadi training from al-Shabab were radicalized in the U.S. through the internet or in prison, the FBI claims.
Three American suicide bombers from Minneapolis who joined the terrorist organization have carried out attacks overseas since 2009. The first was Shirwa Ahmed. Ahmed’s 2009 suicide attack against the Ethiopian Consulate and the presidential palace in Hargeisa killed 24 people.
By May 2011, Farah Mohamad Beledi killed two African Union peacekeepers and a Somali soldier after planning to attack a military base outside Mogadishu. That same year, Abdsalan Hussein Ali attacked African Union troops with another suicide bomber in October of 2011.
Al-Shabab, which was responsible for the 2013 Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, extended promises of violence toward Americans, when it threatened to attack Minneapolis’s Mall of America two months ago. An attack by the terror group is an issue that long bothered FBI Director Robert Mueller.
“I would think that we have seen some information that the leaders would like to undertake operations outside of Somalia,” Mueller told the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2009, adding that he was “absolutely” concerned these young Americans would return to the U.S. and carry out attacks on American soil.
However, al-Shabab’s recruitment drive in Minneapolis is growing, The Daily Beast reported in September 2013. Around that time, The Daily Beast points out, New York Republican Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that 15 to 20 Somali-Americans are involved with al-Shabab and that as many as 50 individuals from Somali neighborhoods in the U.S. have been recruited.
These areas include: Minneapolis–St. Paul; Portland, Maine; San Diego; and Seattle. According to King, the terrorist group recruited these jihadis from communities within these cities. Maine was in the spotlight when it was reported that one of the suspects who took people hostage at the Westgate Mall was from Maine. Somali refugees living in Portland dispute the claims that potential danger may exist in their community after a report came out that al-Shabab was recruiting from the city, The Press Herald reported.
Abdirizak Bihi, a Minneapolis community leader who lost his nephew fighting in Somalia after his recruitment to al-Shabab, told The Daily Beast that he thinks the number is much higher.
“There are two types of numbers: those we have had confirmed by the families who have come forward, and they number more than 40,” Bihi said. He added that the reported numbers might not be correct saying, “We limit what we say to those who have been confirmed, but a lot more men have gone missing.”
Additionally, many Somali migrants also add to the number of potential homegrown terrorists in the United States. In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security told Texas officials to be on the look out for a suspected member of the al-Qaida affiliate who was reportedly trying to enter the U.S. through Mexico, Fox News reported.
During that same month, according to Fox News, a Texas federal court charged a Somali man in Texas of operating a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” that brought in hundreds of Somalis from Brazil via South America. From there, the court says, they would across the Mexican border.
“Many of the illegal immigrants, who court records say were given fake IDs, are alleged to have ties to other now-defunct Somalian terror organizations that have merged with active organizations like Al Shabaab, al-Barakat and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami,” Fox News noted.