FBI Director Comey: Somali Refugee MN Mall Attacker Motivated by ‘Inspiration from Radical Islamic Groups’

Somali Refugees AP
AP File Photo

FBI Director James Comey told a Congressional committee on Wednesday that Dahir Adan, the Somali refugee who attacked ten people at a St. Cloud, Minnesota mall on September 17, was likely motivated “by some sort of inspiration from radical Islamic groups.”

As the Associated Press reported:

While testifying for hours before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, Comey was asked whether authorities had confirmed that the attack earlier this month in a mall in St. Cloud was an act of terrorism. Comey responded that the FBI is “still working on it,” but that it looks like Dahir Ahmed Adan, 20, appears to have been motivated “by some sort of inspiration from radical Islamic groups.”

He said investigators are not yet sure which groups may have inspired Adan or how, adding that investigators still are reviewing Adan’s electronics.

Minneapolis FBI spokesman Jeff Van Nest declined to elaborate on Comey’s comments when reached by phone Wednesday. He said he’d let the FBI director’s statement speak for itself.

Dahir Adan was originally resettled as a refugee in Fargo, North Dakota in the 1990s, along with his father, Ahmed Adan, and, presumably, other members of his family, according to Valley News Live, the NBC television affiliate in Fargo.

Subsequently, Dahir Adan and his father moved from Fargo to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2015.

Adan’s brother, Abdullahi, who claims a St. Cloud, Minnesota residence, is currently in a jail in Fargo, North Dakota on drug charges with an ICE detainer. He and “Semereab Tesfaye, 25, of Fargo were charged with Class A felonies and were booked into the Burleigh County Detention Center,” in November “after a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper stopped their red Mazda sedan on Interstate 94 for a traffic violation. A search of their vehicle yielded 1.75 pounds of marijuana and $1,400 cash.”

Abdullahi Adan is appealing that arrest to the North Dakota Supreme Court. He was subsequently released on bond, but in June was arrested again in Fargo on drug charges, the same month his younger brother Dahir quit his security guard job with a company called Securitas in St. Cloud.

Ninety-seven thousand three hundred and eighty-five Somali refugees have been resettled in the United States in the fifteen years since FY 2002, of which 15,710 were resettled in Minnesota, more than any other state in the country, according to the Department of State’s interactive website.

Trailing Minnesota in the top ten states for Somali refugee resettlement since FY 2002 are Ohio (7,551), Texas (7,195), New York (6,169), Arizona (5,682), Georgia (4,113), California (3,731), Missouri (3,246), Massachusetts (3,156), and Tennessee (2,958).

Minnesota also leads the country in the number of Somali refugees resettled over these fifteen years on a per capita basis, with 286.2 Somali refugees resettled per 100,000 residents of the state. (The state’s 2015 population was 5.5 million).

Only two states come close to Minnesota’s per capita Somali refugee resettlement number: North Dakota and Maine.

North Dakota experienced a 131.7 Somali refugee resettlement rate per 100,000 residents (997 refugees over fifteen years in a state with a 2015 population of 756,927).

Maine experienced a 117.9 Somali refugee resettlement rate per 100,000 residents (1,568 refugees over fifteen years in a state with a 2015 population of 1.3 million).

“Minnesota has the nation’s largest Somali community, with census numbers placing the population at about 57,000,” the Associated Press reported:

Young Somalis have been a target for terror recruiters. Since 2007, more than 20 young men have joined the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia. In addition, roughly a dozen people have left to join militants in Syria, and nine Minnesota men face sentencing on terror charges for plotting to join the Islamic State group.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Florida Republican, asked Comey if Minnesota was the top source of U.S. fighters for the Islamic State group. Comey said he wasn’t sure, but that this “sounds about right.”

Comey said he suspects one reason is because Minnesota is one of the few areas in the country with a large concentration of people who may be susceptible to terror recruiting. Still, he said, the number is small, noting there aren’t many Islamic State fighters from the U.S.

Stopping recruiting has been a high priority in Minnesota, with law enforcement investing countless hours in community outreach and the state participating in a federal project designed to combat radical messages.

“National Review’s Ian Tuttle visited Minneapolis’s Somali community and described the problems of a refugee policy that eschews assimilation,’ ” John Fonte wrote recently at National Review in an article titled “The Obama-Clinton Immigration Agenda Will Mean the Balkanization of America.”

Tuttle reported that the “self-ghettoized” Somali community exists “in tension with its adopted home.” He noted the “terror problem” this tension has caused, as “more than 60 young [American-born] Somali men and women have left Minnesota to join” Islamist terrorist groups.

Issues surrounding terrorism and “radicalization in communities” are of concern in neighboring North Dakota as well.

In July, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) “announced federal funds available to help local communities counter violent extremism by building bridges and encouraging dialogue.”:

To make sure towns across North Dakota and the country remain strong and safe, we need to be tough and smart on terrorism to prevent radicalization in communities. Part of that includes reaching out to all populations in North Dakota’s communities to promote open discussions and support community engagement,” said Heitkamp. “I have long pushed to make sure North Dakota’s towns have the training and resources needed to protect our communities from any potential threat, and these funds could help support those efforts.

The first time Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Grants come from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This first round of CVE grant funding will make $10 million available that will specifically go to state, local, and tribal governments so they have the resources, training, and assistance needed to counter violent extremism and recruitment on the ground. These grants aim to prevent individuals who may be on path toward violent extremism by supporting community-based solutions to deter an individual well before they engage in criminal or terrorist activity, which will require additional resources for law enforcement. More information about CVE grants can be found on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) tweeted on Tuesday that she “Urged @DHSgov Sec. Johnson to boost community policing efforts to build trust & proactively protect communities at Senate cmte hearing.”

You can hear the interchange between Heitkamp and Johnson here at the two hour and five minute mark.

Maine has also recently experienced problems in the Somali community.

“The federal Office on Violence Against Women is giving a Maine immigration resource center $300,000 for sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy in the immigrant community,” the Associated Press reported on Thursday:

The money is going to Immigration Resource Center of Maine, which is located in Lewiston. The center was formerly called the United Somali Women of Maine.

Maine U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins say the immigration resource center will create, maintain and expand sexual assault services for East African sexual assault victims who live in southern Maine.

The senators say the money will help provide culturally specific services to ensure that members of Maine’s East African community have support and education about sexual assault and domestic violence.

In light of FBI Director Comey’s statement that Somali refugee Dahir Adan’s attack in the St. Cloud, Minnesota mall was motivated “by some sort of inspiration from radical Islamic groups,” it is not surprising that trouble in the Somali refugee community in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Maine, the three states with the highest per capita rates of Somali refugee resettlement, has caught the attention of federal lawmakers from those states.


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