An al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab, has created a pipeline into Minneapolis, Minnesota to recruit young Somalian Muslims to leave the United States and achieve martyrdom by fighting in their cause. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in January that al-Shabaab was one of the most significant terror threats to the United States, because the group included a “foreign fighter cadre that includes U.S. passport holders… [who] may have aspirations to attack inside the United States.” In 2010 Congress estimated there were roughly 40 young men who had joined the terror group.
Two young men, 19-year-old Mohamed Osman and 20-year-old Omar Ali Farah, disappeared from Minnesota in July and trekked to Somalia to join al-Shabaab.
Mahamud Said Omar is on trial for recruiting more than 20 fighters for al-Shabaab in America in 2007. During his trial, three former recruits testified that they were convinced to join al-Shabaab by charismatic, pious older men who promised paradise for them if they died in combat against “invaders.”
Although al-Shabaab has suffered losses in Somalia, an African Union official said there is concern that the group would refocus attacks abroad, from Kenya and Uganda to the U.S. U.S. Special Representative for Somalia James Swan has asserted that some of al-Shabbab’s group has fled Somailia, but it wasn’t clear if they were abandoning jihad or heading to a different al Qaeda-affiliated group somewhere else.