Somali missing youths: recruitment methods explored

Minnesota Public Radio gives us a few additional bits of information as we continue to follow the story of the Somali missing youths (former refugees) believed to have joined the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Minneapolis, Minn. — The FBI is looking into whether a group of Twin Cities men were recruited to fight in Somalia. But still unclear is who was responsible for spreading extremist ideology. Is there a recruiter lurking in the community? Or were the young men targeted through the Internet?

Vulnerable youths were apparently discussed in a task force report released last week.  This is new information to me.   I did not know about the Washington Institute for Near East Policy before reading this article.

Michael Jacobson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy helped convene a task force on ways to counter radical extremism. Last week it recommended the U.S. engage in broader community outreach with mosques and Muslim community leaders.

Jacobson said there are many paths to radicalization — and many types of would-be radicals. But in general, he agrees that those most vulnerable include individuals who might not feel socially integrated into their communities.

We have previously discussed the mosque as a likely place for recruitment but other possibilities are being considered.

Counterterrorism experts say militant Islamist groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia have ramped up their cyber activities. Al-Shabaab’s recruitment in the U.S. will be the subject of a Senate Homeland Security committee hearing next week.  [We told you about that here yesterday.]

A propaganda video for Al-Shabaab on YouTube shows fighters firing off rounds of mortar, set to the music of Arabic chanting. At the very end of the clip, the credits say public-relations department of Al-Shabaab is responsible for the message. It also offers a plea that roughly translates into, “Don’t forget us in your prayers.”

But while these videos may be disturbing, experts say online chat rooms that provide two-way communication are much more dangerous. Yet they’re also difficult to find. Web sites regularly vanish and reappear with a different domain name.

And then there’s an old-fashioned invention that could have reached impressionable minds: the telephone.

Read the whole article.  It goes on to explain how authorities can listen in on calls within the Somali highrise where thousands of Somalis reside in Minneapolis.

In the end, some families who are missing a young man believe the indoctrination happened locally, in person, and possibly at the mosque.

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