WATCHING A THREAT
Posted at 9:11 a.m. ET
Terrorism, and a possible attack on American soil, will be one of the major challenges confronting the new president. The Wall Street Journal reports on concerns that some Somali immigrants may be involved in terror-related activities.
WASHINGTON -- Federal agents are investigating whether young men from Somali immigrant enclaves in the U.S. are traveling back to their parents' homeland to fight on the side of Islamist terror groups.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is following the trail of more than a dozen young men missing from Somali communities in several U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, Boston and Columbus, Ohio, according to people familiar with the probe. Counterterrorism officials in Europe and Australia also are investigating similar reports in their countries.
This is not racial profiling. It is an investigation of missing men. Calm down, ACLU.
Somali community leaders say the families are assisting authorities to find out how the young men, some of them immigrants and others American-born, were recruited. "Two of the mothers received phone calls from kids saying that they were in Somalia, in Mogadishu city, saying that they cannot talk and that they will see them in heaven," says Omar Jamal, executive director of Minneapolis's Somali Justice Advocacy Center.
Certainly an optimistic point of view.
The reports have raised concern among counterterrorism officials about immigrant youths being recruited by radical groups...
...E.K. Wilson, an FBI special agent in the bureau's Minneapolis office, said he couldn't confirm the existence of an investigation, but he said the FBI is aware that "a number of young Somali men from throughout the United States have left, potentially to fight with terrorist groups.
U.S. counterterrorism officials have been on guard for homegrown recruitment by radical groups. Intelligence analysts from the New York Police Department, in a study of radicalization in Western Muslim communities, warned that "jihadist ideology" is "proliferating in Western democracies at a logarithmic rate."
In a 2002 case against the so-called Lackawanna Six, federal authorities won convictions against six Americans of Yemeni descent on charges of providing support to al Qaeda. Peter Ahearn, former chief of the FBI's Buffalo, N.Y., field office and leader of the Lackawanna investigation, says investigators "have to assume the possibility" that young men who travel to Somalia to fight could become radicalized and turn against the U.S.
One of the great dangers is that terror-trained operatives can return to the U.S. and hide within their communities.
We've noticed at Urgent Agenda that the foreign press, especially the British press, is now more active in reporting terrorist threats than is our own. This may simply reflect the fact that we haven't had an attack since 2001, but we must resist the tendency to look away or pretend the threat is past.
December 22, 2008.