Search for more Somali missing “children” extends to Atlanta

Every day, visit us because it seems that some new bit of information comes our way regarding the Somali missing ‘youths’ saga.   This is from a blog at the Christian Science Monitor.  Admittedly I don’t know anything about how the FBI does its investigations, but it strikes me that from this account it’s haphazard (and that is a kind choice of words!)

We have theorized that when Homeland Security first learned that Somali (former refugees) were turning up missing in Minneapolis, suspected of returning to Somalia for terrorist training, that the FBI would be checking other cities for missing youths as well.    Guess they are!

While pursuing our recent story about the shooting death of a local teenager, I stumbled into an active FBI investigation. One evening last month, more than 60 members of Atlanta’s Liberian community gathered at Clarkston International Bible Church outside the city, to discuss the shooting by a Liberian youth. Community leaders spoke: a school principal, a minister, a judge, the local police chief.


Two hours into the meeting, a pale, buzz-cut man, who’d slipped in partway through, stood and introduced himself as FBI Senior Special Agent Andy Young – “not the Andrew Young,” he joked, referring to the Atlanta civil rights icon. Crowd members shifted in their seats, and the event’s moderator joked that if the agent had said he was from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the room would’ve cleared out. This got a huge, nervous laugh.

We are your friends!

No, Agent Young said, he wasn’t there to bust anybody on immigration violations. He was there to dispel commonly held fears about the FBI.

But, we want something from you!

His agents would be visiting churches and mosques all over Clarkston to listen to the community’s concerns.

But friendship, he said, carries “reciprocal obligations” – so he had a favor to ask. Although this was a gathering of – “Liberians, right?” – from the opposite side of Africa from Somalia, he wanted to ask their help making contact with friends, neighbors, coworkers: Anyone who might be a leader of Atlanta’s Somali community.

He wanted information on the Somali community because “kids” are missing from Minneapolis.

Because Somali kids were disappearing. Not in Atlanta yet, that he knew of. But “six or seven high school kids,” former refugees resettled in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, the largest Somali community in the US, had recently been recruited by an extremist group through a mosque there and sent back to Somalia to train as suicide bombers.

Now get this little juicy bit of information he revealed to an audience of 60 people he didn’t know.

“One child blew himself up last month,” Young said. “They flew his thumb back to [the FBI Academy in] Quantico [Va.],” fingerprinted it, and discovered he’d come to the US as a refugee.

Child! Child!  Ahmed, the first American suicide bomber (that we know of) was 27 years old!   And, do you remember that Minnesota funeral of the “remains” back in early December?   I’m wondering, did they just bury the thumb?

“They’re still looking for those six other children,” said Young, “Their parents had no idea. They reported their kids missing.” If terrorists are recruiting teenagers in Minnesota, Young said, they could easily be doing it in Atlanta too.

Uh, Mr. Young, I think it’s possible some (more than six!) of the “children” were captured in Somaliland two days ago.

Mayor of Lewiston reports on why Somalis have trouble getting jobs

The Mayor of Lewiston, Maine, home to  many thousands of  Somali refugees (see here, here, and here for a few of Ann’s posts), has written an informative column on his blog, explaining why so many of them are unemployed.  He is reporting on a research project done by students in an anthropology course at Bates College.

Like so many of these studies, the results seem pretty obvious — he probably could have talked to a couple of employers and a couple of Somalis who speak English and come up with the same conclusions. But that would have deprived the students of a valuable research experience, so what the heck. Here’s what they found, leaving out a lot of words that don’t say much. It’s worth noting that the study began before the financial crash and finished during it.

Oops, it’s not about the actual reasons; it’s about the “perspectives of potential employers and employees concerning perceived barriers to Somali employment.” Just in case the employers and employees are in touch with reality, we’ll proceed. Here they are:

Employees’ Perceived Barriers:

• The biggest problem potential employees feel they face is the need of English language skills when finding, applying, and maintaining employment.

• Employees found frustration with the GED requirement for employment in entry-level positions. Many had job experience in other American states; however this experience was rendered irrelevant by local employers’ GED requirements. They felt that successfully maintaining such jobs did not necessarily require a GED level of formal education.

• Lack of computer skills were another obstacle encountered by the New Mainers. Online applications were a challenge. Moreover, computer literacy is required for job applicants even when the actual job does not require any such skill.

• Many potential job seekers referred to feelings of discrimination when they were not contacted, not hired, or when they were disqualified based on language skills or educational background, despite their abilities to perform the tasks assigned.

• Overall, communication barriers, and the resulting lack of mutual understanding, were the largest concern of the job seekers in our study.

Employers’ Perceived Barriers:

• Employers expressed similar concerns regarding communication. Evaluating potential employees was difficult when information seems to get lost in translation. They expressed having difficulty reading body language and emotional reaction in interviewees.

• After hiring Somali employees, it is seen to be a challenge to convey employment policies and procedures. Safety issues have been one of the biggest concerns expressed in our study.

• Cultural differences appear to pose obstacles to employers in the areas of timeliness, clothing, and certain religious practices. Some learned not to assume homogeneity among the immigrant population, noting that Somalis display a range of religious expression, modes of dress, and punctuality.

• Tension between African immigrant and other employees, as well as that between ethnic Somalis and Somali Bantu refugees, was cited as a disincentive to émigré employment.

Some of these are problems for many low-skill people: the ridiculous need to fill out applications online, and educational requirements that are irrelevant to the job.  The language problems are serious, as are the cultural ones. These are things that should be the responsibility of the resettlement agencies, but which are almost invariably left to the resettlement cities, local agencies and employers to solve. English language lessons should be part of the requirements for the resettlement agencies. Here are the recommendations of the study’s authors:

Best Practices and Further Suggestions:

• Mediators such as the Adult Learning Center, the Career Center and Catholic Charities have been essential in facilitating the employment process.

• Both employers and employees recommend multiplying the types of acceptable application procedures and prerequisites. This includes demonstrating one’s ability through pictures, using trained translators, and revising hiring requirements such as for the GED, English language skills, or computer literacy. Accepting prior work experience as evidence of employability, and accepting alternative forms of recommendations, could assist in this effort.

• Examples of successful training programs included hands-on sessions, online courses, and establishing conversation partners on site.

• Using well-trained cultural brokers to assist in safety, policy, employment rights, and diversity awareness workshops was highly recommended.

There’s a job category with a bright future: “cultural broker.” And there’s a great opportunity for “community organizers” to step in. I hope instead they use people from the local Somali population who have learned to speak English.  Here is a summary of the benefits of overcoming the barriers:


As a large percentage of Maine’s workforce will approach retirement age in the next few years, recent Somali immigrants potentially could fill our employment gap. Moreover, as ten percent of our population, we need to employ members of this group, they need the wages, are willing to work hard at entry level positions, will bring diversity to our workplaces, will work flexible hours, can broaden our customer base as well as our employment pool, and will prove to be loyal employees committed to their employers.

What about that “tension between African immigrant and other employees, as well as that between ethnic Somalis and Somali Bantu refugees”? This is a summary, so there might be more in the report itself. It would seem to deserve some explanation, given the major problems in Greeley, Shelbyville, and Emporia, which Ann has reported on at length.

Rohingya News Roundup

There is so much Rohingya news over the last two days, I can’t begin to report it all.  So, I’ve decided to give you links to follow-up on yourselves today.

If you are new to RRW and wondering how this illegal alien controversy in Thailand affects you, it does.  There will soon be a plea to take these Burmese Rohingya Muslims to your town or city.  What the Thai government has done is to give refugee advocates the publicity they needed to push a campaign that has been in the works for a long time.

* New batch of Rohingya came ashore in Thailand yesterday.  The government claims they are economic migrants and the Rohingya are claiming they are seeking asylum.  Economic migrants can be deported.  The UN says those seeking asylum must be protected.    Here for the story.

* This editorial in the Korea Herald started out with the usual plea for human rights for the Rohingya arriving in Thailand and Indonesia, but took an interesting angle near the end.  I’m cheering!  Other Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, should be helping the Rohingya.

The Saudi government (regardless of its poor attitude toward the anti-Israel, anti-US Palestinians) has pledged US$1 billion to rebuild Gaza. What about spending some of its God-given wealth on the Rohingyas and other poor, oppressed Muslim communities outside of Palestine?

* Refugees International, the lobbying arm of the refugee industry in the US, says Thailand cannot send them back to Burma (Myanmar) because they will be abused. RI didn’t say anything about Saudi Arabia helping—they never do.  From a Burmese Muslim website:

The Washington-based group Refugees International has warned that any Rohingya repatriated to Myanmar “is subject to arrest and abuse.”

“Until the Rohingya are recognised by Burma as citizens, neighbouring countries like Thailand must protect and assist this vulnerable population,” it said in a statement released earlier this month.

For a history of the building Rohingya resettlement campaign see our entire category on the subject here.