Senate Homeland Security Committee investigates missing Somali youths

Today on the fifth anniversary of the Madrid train bombing by radical Islamists, Senator Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security Commitee heard testimony in an attempt  to gauge the degree of concern we should have over the Somali “youths” who have reportedly left the US to take part in Jihadist activities in the Horn of Africa.

I attended the hearing in Washington today and will tell you in detail about it tomorrow.   Update:  Here now is my report.

As a kind of warm-up I’m posting tonight on the Washington Post’s front page story today in advance of the hearing.    This situation has been going on for months, in fact over a year, and it’s finally sinking into the conciousness of insular Washington.  To read this (below) and listen to the hearings, one begins to see how 9/11 came about.

Senior U.S. counterterrorism officials are stepping up warnings that Islamist extremists in Somalia are radicalizing Americans to their cause, citing their recruitment of the first U.S. citizen suicide bomber and their potential role in the disappearance of more than a dozen Somali American youths.

In recent public statements, the director of national intelligence and the leaders of the FBI and CIA have cited the case of Shirwa Ahmed, a 27-year-old college student from Minneapolis who blew himself up in Somalia on Oct. 29 in one of five simultaneous bombings attributed to al-Shabaab, a group with close links to al-Qaeda.

Since November, the FBI has raced to uncover any ties to foreign extremist networks in the unexpected departures of numerous Somali American teenagers and young men, who family members believe are in Somalia. The investigation is active in Boston; San Diego; Seattle; Columbus, Ohio; and Portland, Maine, a U.S. law enforcement official said, and community members say federal grand juries have issued subpoenas in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

Officials are still trying to assess the scope of the problem but say reports so far do not warrant a major concern about a terrorist threat within the United States. But intelligence officials said the recruitment of U.S. citizens by terrorist groups is particularly worrisome because their American passports could make it easier for them to reenter the country.

Al-Shabaab — meaning “the youth” or “young guys” in Arabic — “presents U.S. authorities with the most serious evidence to date of a ‘homegrown’ terrorist recruitment problem right in the American heartland,” Georgetown University professor Bruce R. Hoffman says in a forthcoming report by the SITE Intelligence Group, a private firm that monitors Islamist Web sites.

There wasn’t much new in the Post story that we haven’t reported here, but this was a revelation.    Director of the FBI Robert Mueller compared Somalia to Ireland, huh?

U.S. authorities have been wary of stereotyping Somalis or overstating concerns, with Mueller recently comparing the situation to that in Ireland, another country with civil strife, terrorism and a large immigrant community in the United States but little violence here.

Maybe he was thinking Ireland and Islam both start with the letter “I.”  Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember any angry Irish immigrants going back to the ‘old sod’ to kill themselves as Shirwa Ahmed did.

Then here comes the obligatory reporter’s homage to Omar Jamal (see all of our posts on Omar ‘Jesse Jackson’ Jamal here):

Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in Minnesota, said the group first alerted the local FBI a year ago, when family members believed Sakaria Sharif Macruf had left and been killed fighting in Somalia. He later turned up alive but with al-Shabaab in Kismaayo, a city in southern Somalia under the group’s control, Ahmed said.

Jamal said U.S. government policies since 9/11 helped push alienated youths toward radicals.

“You have high rates of young guys unemployed. You have a high rate of dropouts. They’re difficult to integrate and work into the mainstream.” He said religious extremists worked with youths and “gave them hope in their lives — then indoctrinated them into this violent, radical ideology.”

Only one problem with Jamal’s ‘poverty and alienation’ breed terrorism theory, by all accounts some of the missing boys were in the US since they were babies, were straight A students and had bright futures.   

When I tell you about the hearing tomorrow, you will see this theme ran throughout the hearing—the poor, fatherless, alienated, unassimilated “kids” are ripe for radical  Islamic recruitment.  Not one word about the power and pull of Islamic religious and political ideology, something we, mostly secular Americans, just don’t get.

Federal grand jury hears testimony about missing Minnesota Somalis

The FBI’s investigation into the Somali “youths” who went missing has reached the grand jury stage. Fox News reports:

Federal authorities are looking to bring terror-related charges against one or more Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area, and witnesses to the case have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury, according to a Muslim leader in the area and a woman who said she testified before the grand jury this morning.

We’ve been following the story of these Somalis for a while. Our posts are here (mostly Ann’s). The article says the FBI has been investigating the missing men for months.

The FBI has interviewed at least 50 people in the Somali community and subpoenaed at least 10 people to testify before a grand jury in Minneapolis, according to Farhan Hurre, the director of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in St. Paul, one of the largest mosques in the Twin Cities. He said most of those subpoenaed are students at the University of Minnesota. At least two of the men still missing were students at the University of Minnesota.

The FBI didn’t want to comment to the reporter. But Hurre had some information:

Hurre said he was told a case has been opened against at least one unidentified person. He said authorities are now “trying to bring the pieces together of what’s going on here” in Minneapolis. Specifically, he said investigators are trying to determine who organized the missing group of men, who financed them and how were they recruited.

Hurre said the mosque has received threatening emails and phone calls, and the media attention and backlash are “destroying our community.” A meeting between the FBI and mosque members or officials will be held Thursday; the mosque offered such a meeting last month.

At a forum in Washington two weeks ago, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the trend of young men “radicalized and recruited” in the United States to take up arms overseas “in particular concerns us.”

“It raises the question of whether these young men will one day come home, and, if so, what they might undertake here,” he said.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security is holding hearings on the Somali-terrorism issue today. Ann will have a report later.

Hat tip to Andy McCarthy at the Corner, who stays on top of terrorism-related news.

Note from Ann:  I have been keeping a running list of all the coverage of this issue ever since we started following the story in November, it is here.

Mexicans protesting influx of American immigrants to their country

Yes, you heard that right.  Thanks to reader Ciccio for sending us a story from WFAA-TV  Dallas/Ft. Worth that brought tears (of laughter) to my eyes.   Mexicans are afraid Americans will undermine their culture and refuse to learn their language as they emigrate in increasing numbers to Mexico.

Not everyone is rolling out the welcome mat to Americans. Many Mexicans complain about the rapid growth of the American population in their neighborhoods, the threat they see to Mexican culture and language, and the possible drain on Mexico’s inexpensive health care.

In San Miguel de Allende, the group Basta Ya is protesting the erosion of the language and the rising cost of living generated by the infusion of dollars into the local economy.

“They think Mexico, especially San Miguel de Allende, is an extension of their country,” group member Arturo Morales Tirado said of the Americans who call San Miguel home. “It’s not and won’t be, no way.”

Read the whole story here.

Iraqi secondary migrants following Somalis to Maine

Several years ago a large contingent of Somali refugees originally resettled unhappily in Atlanta, GA headed to Lewiston, ME in hopes of finding a more hospitable community.  I’m not going to re-hash what happened in Lewiston, I’ll let you use our search function (just type in ‘Lewiston’) to review that convoluted story.

Now Iraqis, originally resettled in Atlanta, are also moving to Maine.  Hat tip:  Mars

PORTLAND — Iraqi refugees continue to come to Maine’s largest city at a slowed but steady pace, rallying assistance from municipal and school agencies and many community volunteers.

The Iraqis are arriving with little more than the clothes they can carry. Most of them are relocating from Atlanta, having heard that Portland offers the security, good schools and friendliness they found lacking in the much larger Southern city.

They are among nearly 20,000 Iraqi refugees who have been admitted to the United States since 2007, fleeing the war that has pummeled their country for six years. More than 2 million Iraqis are living as refugees in Syria, Jordan and other countries, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

A total of 24 Iraqi families – 111 individuals – have arrived in Portland since late October, the bulk of them coming in November and December, said Robert Duranleau, the city’s social services administrator.

An additional 200 to 300 Iraqi families are expected to move here from Georgia and possibly other states in the next several months, according to city and school officials. They are choosing to relocate as legal residents of this country, and have access to public services available to any disadvantaged person who lives in Portland.

Read the whole article in the Portland Press Herald to learn more about the social services available to refugees and immigrants in Maine.   Despite the snow and cold, these Iraqis say they are happy.

Meanwhile, nearby Vermont is our 17th state where Iraqis say they are unhappy and have found few jobs. The 16 others are: Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire,Virginia, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Idaho, Connecticut, New Mexico, California, Utah, North Carolina, Texas and Washington. See our Iraqi refugee category for all these stories and more.

Senator Kyl bases amendment on misinterpretation about Palestinian refugees

I’m late posting this, but better late than never. Senator Jon Kyl introduced an amendment to the budget bill:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be available to resettle Palestinians from Gaza into the United States.” 

Talking Points Memo (TPM) reports that Kyl realized the threat of resettling Palestinians from Gaza here might not be real and quotes him as saying: 

There has been a suggestion that perhaps [refugee resettlement of Palestinians] might be permitted, and we simply want to make it clear that will not be permitted with any funds in this bill.

Talking Points Memo and other sites call it “an internet rumor making the rounds on the right.” A number of leftist blogs have had great fun pointing out Kyl’s error, calling it “anti-Palestinian bigotry,” “clearly discriminatory,” and the like.  The New York Times blog said:

Internet headlines and blogs had twisted the meaning of the memorandum, suggesting that Mr. Obama was financing potential terrorist migration paths.

Our posts pointing out the misinterpretation are here, here, and here.  I repeat what I said in the first of those posts a month ago:  

It is understandable that the directive would be interpreted as it was. We have learned that we cannot trust anything President Obama says or does. And he has been positively obsequious toward the Muslim world since he took office — no, since well before he took office.

And I add now that the reason the rumor became so widespread is that every day it becomes more obvious that this is something Obama wouldn’t hesitate to do if it served his purposes. So we don’t fault Senator Kyl; his staff just should have checked the facts better. Kyl is a terrific fighter for freedom, who hosted Geert Wilders and a showing of Fitna on Capitol Hill a couple of weeks ago. His other amendments to the bill are these, TPM reports:

The second of Kyl’s three amendments is arguably redundant: it would prevent any of the $900 million that Secretary of State Clinton has pledged for Gaza reconstruction from going to entities controlled by Hamas … a rule that Clinton has already set. [We’ll see how effective Clinton’s rule is. Not at all, since UNRWA is controlled by Hamas and that’s where a lot of the money is going.–JW]

Kyl’s third amendment would require the State Department to report on whether American aid to Egypt could be used to improve the counter-smuggling effort along the Egypt-Gaza border.

Senator Kyl withdrew his amendment about the refugees and his other two amendments were defeated.

(Sorry about the typefaces; sometimes WordPress translates copied text into the normal typeface and sometimes it doesn’t, and I don’t know how to change that.)