Although the FBI isn’t confirming it, a key person wanted in the Somali missing youth case that we have been following for a year is under arrest in the Netherlands reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He was believed to be the recruiter and financier of the “youths” (former refugees*) who went to Africa to join the Jihad. The still unnamed suspect was caught at an asylum center—what a surprise! Hat tip: an ever-watchful friend from Tennessee
A 43-year-old Somali man from Minneapolis was arrested this week in the Netherlands for allegedly financing the recruitment of up to 20 young Somali men from Minnesota to train and fight with terrorists in their homeland.
The arrest appears to be the most significant development yet in one of the most far-reaching counterterrorism investigations since 9/11.
The identity of the man, who was arrested Sunday at an asylum-seeker’s center 45 miles northeast of Amsterdam, was not released. But Special Agent E.K. Wilson of the Minneapolis FBI office confirmed Tuesday that the man was arrested in connection with the ongoing counterterrorism investigation that began here when young men began disappearing in 2007.
“We are aware of this individual and of this arrest. And it is tied to our ongoing Minneapolis investigation,” Wilson said. “We are and have been working closely with Dutch authorities through our legal attaché office in Brussels and coordinating with the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.”
Dutch prosecutors said in a statement that the man lived in Minneapolis before leaving the United States in November 2008 and arrived in the Netherlands about one month later.
The statement said American authorities asked for the man’s arrest and are seeking to have him extradited. Wilson said he could not confirm or deny that.
According to the Dutch statement, U.S. prosecutors suspect the man of bankrolling the purchase of weapons for Islamic extremists and helping other Somalis travel to Somalia in 2007 and 2008.
At the heart of the federal investigation has been the question of who recruited the men and financed their return to their homeland to fight.
Wilson would not comment on the significance of Sunday’s arrest. But it is apparently the first to involve someone in an alleged leadership role.
Read the whole Star Tribune story, it’s a good summary of where the case stands now.
* The US State Department has admitted over 80,000 Somali refugees to the US in the last 25 years and then last year had to suspend family reunification because widespread immigration fraud was revealed through DNA testing. That specific program has not yet been reopened, but thousands of Somalis continue to be resettled as I write this.