On July 27, Rep. Peter King chaired the Homeland Security Committee’s third hearing about Islamic terrorism in the United States, titled Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland.
King’s opening remarks (Watch) noted that the hearing was part of an ongoing investigation.
At this hearing, the third in a series, we will examine Somalia-based terrorist organization al Shabaab’s ongoing recruitment, radicalization, and training of young Muslim-Americans and al Shabaab’s linking up with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
A new fact from the hearing was that 40 Somalis residing in America have returned to their beloved homeland to fight for jihad with al-Shebaab (pictured), not the 20+ number that has been the usual figure for several years.
One interesting witness was the St. Paul Chief of Police, Thomas Smith. His testimony was enthusiastic about the wonders of police “outreach” to Somali youth. (Read it here.) He made the St. Paul police sound more like social workers than crime-fighting cops. Smith described an array of fun athletic programs: “Our Police Athletic League has over 300 Somali American youth participants who compete in soccer, flag football, softball and volleyball games that are organized, coached and refereed by Saint Paul Police Officers.” Kumbaya is alive and well in Minnesota!
Of course, top quality outreach like St. Paul’s does not come cheap. Chief Smith praised the success of AIMCOP (African Immigrant Muslim Community Outreach Program). AIMCOP is a two-year program funded by a Bureau of Justice Assistance grant at a cost of $670,679 to the taxpayers.
In 2006, the St. Paul Police received a grant for $250,000 from the Minnesota Public Safety Department for outreach to the Muslim/Somali community. The program focused on women’s issues and domestic violence, but apparently did not work well enough to prevent prostitution rings in three cities run by Somali gangs which forced girls under the age of 14 into the sex business.
The point is that hostile, culturally inappropriate groups like Somali Muslims are a really bad choice for immigrants and cost the taxpayer a pile of money as a result. They arrive with a dislike of our values, and the young men act out via crime, gangs and Islamic violence. Extreme diversity in immigration is favored by liberals as a way to demonstrate their flawed belief that all cultures are morally equal, which they most certainly are not.
Agencies like the police, schools and social services are faced with the task of socializing hostile tribes that do not want to assimilate. Taxpayers are then forced to spend a lot of money to run expensive programs to keep Somali boys out of trouble.
It would be cheaper and safer to end the failed social experiment of diverse immigration, particularly Muslims.
St. Paul police chief shares strategy with House panel studying Somali terrorism, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 28, 2011
One soccer game and camping trip at a time, St. Paul police officers are spending time with Somali-American youth to help counter the threat of Islamic radicalization, the city’s police chief testified Wednesday in Washington.
Police “began to engage in serious outreach work with our Somali-American residents” in 2004, said Chief Thomas Smith. That became the foundation for the African Immigrant Muslim Community Outreach Program (AIMCOP), funded largely through a federal grant.
In addition to youth work, police hold community education meetings targeted at Somali adults, and regular meetings between Smith and elders.
“We strongly believe that by creating these safe, diverse and ongoing opportunities for Somali-American youth and the police to interact, that trust, cooperation, friendship and mentorship will increase, and opportunities for al-Shabaab to recruit and radicalize our youth will decrease,” Smith said in remarks prepared for a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington.
The outreach has paid dividends, Smith said. In 2009, St. Paul police “through established personal relationships was informed by Somali-American parents that girls in their community were being sexually trafficked” between the Twin Cities and Tennessee, Smith said. A large investigation resulted in 30 federal indictments.
The case of Somali men who are believed to have left Minnesota to join a terror group in their homeland was a focus of the Wednesday hearing.
Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaida-linked terror group in war-torn Somalia.
At the hearing, the committee chairman, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said more than 40 Americans have been recruited by al-Shabaab and gone to Somalia to join the fight, and at least 15 of them have been killed.
King said the recruitment and radicalization of Americans is more than counterterrorism officials have publicly acknowledged. The figures are based on his committee’s investigation.
Federal law enforcement authorities have said at least 21 people are believed to have traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, which began as a push to expel Ethiopian soldiers, and at least two young men have been confirmed dead. Others are feared dead. And in recent years, more than 35 people from across the U.S. have been charged with connections to al-Shabaab, including some who have been indicted for raising money to fund the group.
But the top Democrat on the committee said the threat from al-Shabaab has been overstated, as the number of people who left the U.S. to go to Somalia is small and confined to a two-year period.
“Al-Shabaab does not appear to present any danger to this homeland,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
Thompson’s assessment, however, is in direct contrast to that of some intelligence officials in the Obama administration.
And William Anders Folk, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted some of the Minnesota cases, testified Wednesday that there’s a potential that those trained in violence by al-Shabaab could return to the United States.
“The reality is we don’t know what terrorist organizations are able to do looking forward. They are in some regards more aspirational than operational,” Folk said. “We don’t know when they are going to cross the line from aspiration to operation.”
The committee’s findings came during the third in a series of hearings on the threat of Islamic radicalization in the U.S. Some feel the Republicans are unfairly singling out Muslims. They say focusing too closely on Islam and the religious motives of those who have attempted terror attacks threatens to alienate an entire community.
Minnesota has been at the center of the federal investigation into the travels and recruitment of those who are believed to have joined al-Shabaab, and the hearings have prompted some here to warn against generalizations about Somalis or Muslims. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and others issued statements touting the work of successful Somalis in Minnesota, home to the largest Somali community in America, and noting their positive contributions to society as business owners, students, religious leaders and elected officials.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis, said in a statement, “Violent radicalization and domestic terrorism are significant threats to our national security. … However, by stereotyping the broader Somali community, we risk losing the trust of our strongest allies in the fight against violent extremism.”
In St. Paul, about 45 officers from all ranks are involved in programs with the Somali community, Smith said. They participate in activities with Somali-American youth, including school-study programs, open gyms, arts and crafts programs, and camping trips.
One goal of the program was to expand the department’s Police Athletic League. There are now more than 300 Somali-American youth participants, ages 8 to 14, who compete in soccer, flag football, softball and volleyball games, Smith said.
There are monthly community education meetings, which cover various topics, and have drawn more than 2,800 people since they started, police said.
“Somali-American youth that may be tempted by an ideology of radicalization can now look to an expanded network of trust, including police officer mentors to provide support, resources and guidance to steer them in a positive direction,” Smith said.”
Police applied for the grant for AIMCOP in 2009 and were awarded $670,679 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which is set to expire in April.
Other groups, including the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office, the Ramsey County sheriff’s office and various community organizations are involved in AIMCOP.
This report includes information from the Associated Press. Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262.