Scott: Now that the hostage situation in Kenya is winding down, people are asking who is responsible and were Americans involved. Shelby Holliday takes a deeper look.
Shelby: From the mosques to the markets to the men on the street, this neighborhood in Minnesota is often called ‘Little Mogadishu’ because of its large population of Somalians.
This week, residents reacted to the mall attack in Kenya that was carried out by the Somalia-based terrorist network called al-Shabaab.
Aman Obsiye: All Somali people dislike al-Shabaab because of not only the violence in their message, but they’re really trying to change the makeup of the Somali nation.
Shelby: But there is fear that some Somalians in this community are attracted to the extremist message of al-Shabaab. The terrorist group has links to al-Qaeda, and it has been recruiting in the United States for years.
Terrorist speaker: You know, you are the one in need.
Shelby: One way they reach people in America is by posting online videos in English. This one was released last month featuring two Somali-Americans and this man.
Recruiter: If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here. This is the real Disneyland.
Shelby: The forty-minute video follows the three young men who left local high schools and even the University of Minnesota, to join the group in Somalia. Now, it is believed that all three men are dead.
Kyle Loven: It is troubling because they’re using the medium of video to romanticize what it is to go to Somalia and fight, and it’s appealing, unfortunately, to some young men here in Minneapolis.
Shelby: Despite their recruiting efforts in the U.S., most Americans had never heard of al-Shabaab until the recent attack in Kenya. But the group has a long history of violence and extremism.
Since 2006, al-Shabaab has been trying to setup terror operations and establish itself inside Somalia. In 2010, al-Shabaab militias killed 76 soccer fans gathered to watch the World Cup in Uganda. And just two weeks ago, 15 people were killed when a car bomb and a suicide bomber attacked a restaurant. Now, the attack in Kenya, which has left at least 67 people dead. Al-Shabaab claims that some of the terrorists were American.
Amina Mohamed: The Americans, from the information we have, are young men maybe 18 and 19 that, you know, lived in the U.S. in Minnesota and one other place.
Shelby: The FBI estimates that about twenty people have left ‘Little Mogadishu’ in Minnesota for the capital of Mogadishu in Somalia where al-Shabaab is based. But that number could be higher.
Abdirizak Bihi: That’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s not about heaven. It’s not about ideology. It’s about engaging a young man who’s lost. They hold his hand. They take him to the mosque. They raise him. They indoctrinate him.
Shelby: This Minnesota mother knows the situation all too well. ‘The pain,’ she says, ‘is impossible to explain.’ Her 19-year-old son, Jamal, left for Somalia in 2008. This is the last picture she has of him before he left. And this is the one her husband spotted online in 2009 that told her Jamal was dead. ‘It was not his decision,’ she said. ‘They brainwashed him.’ Jamal was a promising university engineering student. But instead, he joined a terror group and died living a life of violence.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.
Scott: One last note: the words al-Shabaab being ‘youth’ in Arabic.