Minnesota’s large Somalian immigrant Muslim community is more susceptible to radicalization from terrorist organizations, according to the director of the FBI.
FBI Director James Comey noted the proclivity for radicalization while testifying before the House Committee on the Judiciary Wednesday.
“Why is Minnesota turning out so many jihadists?” Rep. Ron DeSantis asked Comey, citing a report from the House Committee on Homeland Security, which found that Minnesota was the top source for U.S. fighters joining Islamic State.
“I don’t know whether for sure that’s true, but it sounds about right,” said Comey, noting the overall number of U.S. citizens has been fairly low. “There have been a number of Somali-American heritage young men who’ve gone to fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia and with ISIS.”
According to Comey, Minnesota produces so many jihadis because “that’s one of the few areas in the United States [that] we have a large concentration susceptible to that recruiting.”
“The great thing about America is everybody is kind of dispersed,” said Comey. “That’s one of the areas where there’s an immigrant Muslim community that seems to be susceptible for some reason.”
A Somalian-American man in St. Paul, Minn., engaged in a knife attack at a local mall Sept. 17, injuring eight. ISIS was quick to take credit for the attack shortly after it occurred. Comey noted that the FBI investigation into the attack is ongoing, but he was apprehensive in connecting it to ISIS at this point.
“They claim responsibility, [but] that isn’t dispositive for us, beceause they’ll claim responsibility for any savagery they can get their name on,” said Comey.
Approximately 25,000 Somalis live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, many of whom are Muslim. Most of the community immigrated to the area as refugees in the 1990s due to the Somalian civil war. As opposed to many immigrant communities which are usually spread throughout the U.S. upon resettlement, the Minnesota Somalian community is densely concentrated in the Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, earning it the nickname “Little Mogadishu.”
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