Earlier this month, 15 Somalis who are either US citizens or residents were charged with terrorism-related crimes because of their alleged association with Al Shabaab, which the Obama administration lists as a terrorist organisation.
Several other Somalis who have lived in the United States are believed to have gone to Somalia to fight in Shabaab’s ranks.
Most of these young men, as well as two women recently charged as Shabaab fundraisers, lived in the state of Minnesota in the north-central US.
A large Somali immigrant community has taken root during the past 20 years in and around Minneapolis, the largest city in Minnesota.
A significant number of these immigrants live in poverty and have not been assimilated into the US society. Some have “quite likely experienced prejudice and hostility,” says Thomas Mockaitis, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago who studies terrorist groups.
In addition to fighting against the weak government in Somalia, radicalised Somalis with links to the United States might try to carry out an attack inside the US, Prof Mockaitis says.
“It wouldn’t be that difficult. They could find some support within the Somali community here,” he suggests, adding, however, that “99.9 percent of Somalis [in the US] have nothing to do with Shabaab.”
In announcing the indictments of 12 Somalis living in the United States and another two who are now believed to be in Somalia, US Attorney General Eric Holder said on August 5, “We are seeing an increasing number of individuals, including US citizens, who have become captivated by extremist ideology and have taken steps to carry out terrorist objectives, either at home or abroad.”
Mr Holder described the US support link to Shabaab as “a deadly pipeline.”
Source: East African