NYT feature article on Somalis today—it is about the call of Allah

I’ll probably have more to say later on the New York Times front page story today on the missing Somali (former refugee) youths, but tonight just one point I want to  make clear to readers.  First, see Judy’s earlier post,  here.

There is much discussion in the article about the patriotic motive that might have helped inspire American-raised boys to return to Somalia for terrorist training.  The NYT tells us that the boys were told that Ethiopian troops, backed by America, were to blame for attrocities such as the rape of Somali women. 

Indeed that whole line of discussion ran through the Senate Homeland Security hearings that I attended last spring in Washington. Just checking my post on the March hearing, I note that both the FBI witness and the witness from the National Counterterrorism Center told the Senators that the boys were not fighting the international jihad just fighting for their homeland!  It was as if the US recruitment by al-Shabaab could be glossed over, made less threatening,  if it was for patriotic reasons, for love of their ancestral homeland, that the boys had gone to Africa.

Ms. Elliot, the NYT reporter, in her lengthy analysis tells us much about the man she calls the “recruiter”, Zakaria Maruf.  Please go read the discussion about this former Minneapolis resident.    I thought the name sounded familiar and sure enough I wrote about Mr. Maruf here just a couple of days ago.

Let me be clear—-Maruf is!  He says that their fighting is NOT about patriotism.

From Minnesota Public Radio:

In an interview with a Somali radio station several months ago, one of the Minnesota fighters suggested that he and his friends traveled to Somalia on their own volition. Friends have identified the speaker as 30-year-old Zakaria Maruf, a graduate of Edison High School in Minneapolis. 

“Brother, someone who is a grown man with any sense cannot be misled, Maruf said in the interview.”The place where we’ve come from is not a place where you can be coerced.”

In the interview, Maruf implies that his participation in the fighting was motivated by religion, not patriotism. Maruf said he and his friends heard the call of Allah, and they accepted it.

I believe that is the point that we must all get through our heads!

Just a hunch, but I think this ordinary street thug, Maruf, with his “little man” complex is being set up as the fall guy.  Yeh, he might have done his share of  encouraging and recruiting, but as Abdirizak Bihi (a family member of one of the dead youths) pointed out in that Minnesota Public Radio story I linked above—-it took years and years of indoctrination.

Bihi still blames a handful of religious leaders in Minnesota for radicalizing the young men with extremist ideology.

“It’s not the work that was done by one speech,” he said. “It’s not the work that was done in a couple days or months. It’s the work of years and years and years.”

For new readers, we have followed the Somali missing youths story since last November, see links here to all of our posts on the topic.

The Minneapolis jihadists rate a front-page NYT story

Update later on Sunday:  Jerry Gordon at New English Review has a more detailed analysis of the NYT Somali story and calls for Senate Homeland Security Committee to reopen hearings on Al-Shabaab, here.  Ann has more commentary here.

Today’s New York Times has a huge story, A Call to Jihad, Answered in America, about the young Somali men from Minneapolis who went to Somalia to join Al Shabaab, the militant Muslim group. The article, by Andrea Elliott (whose beat seems to be Muslims in America), takes up most of the top half of the front page and continued onto two full inside pages. It’s written in the modern journalistic style that takes a while to get to the point, but it’s got a lot of good information. Of course, Ann could have told you much of it a long time ago.

It looks like a story prepared at length and in detail. As it says,

An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with close friends and relatives of the men, law enforcement officials and lawyers, as well as access to live phone calls and Facebook messages between the men and their friends in the United States, reveals how a far-flung jihadist movement found a foothold in America’s heartland.

She covers the FBI investigation, apparently using the main investigator, Ralph S. Boelter, as her source. Some excerpts from that section:

In the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, Somalis had remained largely under the law enforcement radar while other Muslim immigrants — primarily Arabs and South Asians — experienced the brunt of the raids and scrutiny. While federal investigators had tracked the movements of American recruits to the Shabaab since at least early 2008, the F.B.I.’s case did not swing into high gear until after Shirwa Ahmed’s suicide attack that fall.

….As the inquiry wore on, community leaders say, more than 50 people were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Minneapolis and another jury was convened in San Diego. In April, F.B.I. agents raided three Somali money wiring businesses in Minneapolis. By then, the investigation had expanded to smaller Somali communities in Boston; Seattle; Portland, Me.; and Columbus, Ohio.

….Mr. Boelter tried to counter the negative attention by appearing on Somali television and radio, encouraging people to cooperate with investigators. Yet he has revealed little about the case itself. The scope and intensity of the investigation, he said, is merely commensurate to the danger posed by the men.

“If American citizens are joining the Shabaab, the potential threat domestically is serious,” Mr. Boelter said. “I think they could be commissioned to come back. Or they could do it on their own because they are philosophically aligned with the Shabaab or Al Qaeda.”

There’s almost nothing about the disagreements within the Somali community in Minneapolis. Just this:

The tension in the community has turned inward at times. Last March, the uncle of Burhan Hassan, the boy known as Little Bashir, testified at a Congressional hearing on the case that the mosque had been “brainwashing” the young men and had possibly raised money for the Shabaab.

The mosque’s leaders denied this, in turn accusing the family and others of shirking responsibility for their own children. “That’s their obligation, to know where their kids are going,” said Omar Hurre, the mosque’s executive director.

I wonder if Andrea Elliott knows about the involvement of CAIR and the gutsy opposition to CAIR among the Minneapolis Somalis, and didn’t want to report on it, or if she doesn’t know. It’s an important development but mainstream media and other institutions are pretty wary of offending CAIR. We’ll try to find out more about that.

Previous posts on the Minneapolis Somalis are here.

Iraqi government helping finance unhappy refugees return to Iraq (from the US!)

Here is a story, this time from USA Today, about Iraqi refugees hearing that life is tough in the US and having second thoughts about coming,

BAGHDAD — When Haider Abbas applied for a refugee visa to the U.S. more than a year ago, moving to America seemed like a no-brainer.

An American contractor for whom Abbas had worked in Baghdad early in the war told him he could get him a job at his Northern Virginia company. And Abbas’ younger brother, who was among the first to win the special refugee visas being allotted to Iraqis, was already on his way to the United States.

Then, earlier this year, the U.S. economy soured. Abbas’ former boss told him he probably couldn’t help him find work after all. The younger brother, an engineer by training, could find work in America only as a pizza delivery man.

Now, Abbas is uncertain whether he should stay or go.

“This is something I have wanted for such a long time, but now with the U.S. economy the way it is, I worry how I’ll be able to find a job and care for my family,” said Abbas, 37, who recently was informed that his visa was approved. “I feel very confused.”

There are signs that Iraqis who win refugee visas are increasingly having second thoughts about moving to America.

Then here is the bit in this article that we didn’t know, and I bet most Iraqis in the US don’t know—-the Iraqi government is helping Iraqis go home!

Lina Omar, a foreign service officer in the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, also said that some Iraqis are reconsidering their options in light of improved security in Iraq.

“Many families are hearing from those who have already arrived that the financial support they are going to receive is for a very limited period of time, and that making ends meet will be difficult,” Omar said.

A few have become so discouraged that they’ve given up on the U.S. altogether. Omar said the Iraqi government is helping several Iraqi refugee families, who said they can’t make it financially, return to Iraq.

Another unhappy Iraqi refugee, Ft. Worth this time

I have a slew of Iraqi refugee stories today; I hope I can get them all posted.  Here is the first, same old story!   Iraqi refugee, a single man, misses his family and is considering returning to Iraq.  From the Star-Telegram:

FORT WORTH — He arrived 2 1/2 weeks ago, with a heavy suitcase and years of pent-up hopes and dreams.

Faced with imminent danger in his homeland of Iraq, 39-year-old Hussein Khalifa was finally in the United States — in Fort Worth — seeking refuge in a country where one of his friends said “this is the life.”

Now he’s wondering whether danger really is the worst thing he could face.

Loneliness has set in on the man accustomed to working two jobs and spending much time with his 4-year-old nephew.

He has been forced into a slower pace as he waits for a Social Security card and legal documents that will let him formally begin a job search. So he spends time talking with other Iraqi refugees, looking through old pictures, sending e-mails to family and talking on the telephone with his nephew, who wants him to come home.

“I’m frustrated,” said Khalifa, an English teacher, interpreter and special correspondent for news organizations in Baghdad. “At home, I have everything I want — a home, money, family. But … I can’t guarantee my life.

“In this country, I have my life but nothing else.”

Texas is one of the few states in the nation where employment numbers are still good, but not good enough for a refugee who speaks English well.

So difficult [the transition to America] for Khalifa that he has set a personal deadline: Find a job by September, when an Iraqi school holiday ends, or go back to Iraq.

Maybe I was wrong about my dream,” Khalifa said. “Maybe this was a terrible mistake.”

You can bet the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has fully informed him of the consequences should he return to Iraq.  Each of these returnees is a black-eye to the do-gooders (we want to show you what good people we  Americans are) in the State Department, but even more so to the federal contractors (see the Top Ten here) whose responsibility it is to help them adjust to their new lives, make them comfortable and help them find work.    ‘Hey buddy, you leave and you can’t come back and besides we want our airfare money we loaned you!’

Khalifa said he would return to Iraq before his money runs out.

But if he goes back, he will no longer be considered a refugee and can’t come back to the United States, Amara said. Either way, he has to repay the International Organization for Migration for his trip costs.

Note to Khalifa:  Check with your embassy in Washington, DC.  Apparently the Iraqi government is paying airfares home!   See this post.