by Jerry Gordon (June 2009)
Delivered to the New English Review Symposium May 30th, 2009.
Bruce Tefft, former CIA covert operations officer with years of African counterinsurgency experience considers the Somalis as among the toughest “foot solders of Islam.” Extensive articles have been written about the Somali émigré problems in America. The problems of UN control over the State Department administered refugee program that brought an estimated 200,000 Somalis to America has been examined. The cross-cultural and public health impact of Somali émigrés in small American communities such as Lewiston, Maine, Emporia, Kansas and Shelbyville, Tennessee have been detailed. Somali Muslim charter schools such as the Tarek Ibn Zayed Academy in Minnesota, which violated the ‘construction’ clause of our First Amendment have been reported. This prompted the Minnesota Chapter of the ACLU to bring suit against the State of Minnesota Department of Education.
The current article covers a wide range of topics. It chronicles the two decade long devolution of the failed Somali state in the Horn of Africa that spawned a massive refugee influx in America. It addresses the Al Shabaab threat to turn Somalia into a Taliban–like terror state and the trans-national recruiting of Americans, both naturalized Somalis and others, for this terrorist group. It examines their methods of indoctrination. It analyzes massive Somali immigration fraud and the problems it poses. It questions the capabilities of our national law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies in addressing naturalized American Somali home grown terrorist threats. Finally, it presents some suggested initiatives to rein in Somali immigration fraud and monitor radical elements in impacted communities throughout America.
Somalia: “The Most Dangerous Place in the World”
Somalia, according to New York Times Horn of Africa correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman, is “The Most Dangerous Place” in the world. In a Foreign Policy article, Gettleman noted:
Somalia is a state governed only by anarchy. A graveyard of foreign-policy failures, it has known just six months of peace in the past two decades. Now, as the country’s endless chaos threatens to engulf an entire region, the world again simply watches it burn.
Gettleman goes on to chronicle the devolution of Somalia into worlordism and Sharia extremism through 14 failed attempts to form a ruling government.
Somalia is a political paradox—unified on the surface, poisonously divided beneath. It is one of the world’s most homogeneous nation-states, with nearly all of its estimated 9 to 10 million people sharing the same language (Somali), the same religion (Sunni Islam), the same culture, and the same ethnicity. But in Somalia, it’s all about clan. Somalis divide themselves into a dizzying number of clans, subclans, sub-subclans, and so on, with shifting allegiances and knotty back stories that have bedeviled outsiders for years.
Somalia won independence in 1960, but it quickly became a Cold War pawn, prized for its strategic location in the Horn of Africa, where Africa and Asia nearly touch. First it was the Soviets who pumped in weapons, then the United States. A poor, mostly illiterate, mainly nomadic country became a towering ammunition dump primed to explode. The central government was hardly able to hold the place together. Even in the 1980s, Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, the capricious dictator who ruled from 1969 to 1991, was derisively referred to as “the mayor of Mogadishu” because so much of the country had already spun out of his control.
When clan warlords finally ousted him in 1991, it wasn’t much of a surprise what happened next. The warlords unleashed all that military-grade weaponry on each other, and every port, airstrip, fishing pier, telephone pole—anything that could turn a profit—was fought over. People were killed for a few pennies. Women were raped with impunity. The chaos gave rise to a new class of parasitic war profiteers—gunrunners, drug smugglers, importers of expired (and often sickening) baby formula—people with a vested interest in the chaos continuing. Somalia became the modern world’s closest approximation of Hobbes’s state of nature, where life was indeed nasty, brutish, and short.
Black Hawk Down and Jihad Piracy Threats to the US
Americans know only too well how dangerous Somalia is, given the searing memories of the “Black Hawk Down” incident captured in a Philadelphia Inquirer series of article and 1999 book by journalist and author Mark Bowden as well as a 2001 film by director Ridley Scott. The news articles, book and film graphically portrayed the carnage wreaked on Somalis, American Rangers and Delta Force teams caught in a failed snatch of Warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid on October 3rd and 4th, 1993. An estimated 700 to 1,000 Somali fighters may have been killed or injured, 18 Americans were killed and more than 52 injured in intense urban combat. We saw grisly pictures of one American dead being dragged by Somali insurgents through the Streets of Mogadishu and witnessed the drama of the capture and release of a courageous wounded American Helicopter pilot. The Clinton Adinistration, reacting to adverse American opinion, withdrew our forces from this multilateral humanitarian mission in Somalia. The Bush Administration developed a Horn of Africa policy that relied on proxy allies like Ethiopia to undertake counter-insurgency actions in Somalia.
In April, we witnessed the dramatic failed attempt by Jihadi Somali pirates to capture the Maersk Alabama. The Somali pirates held hostage Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips. Navy Seals aboard the USS Bainbridge, named after a hero of the 19th Century Barbary Pirate War, succeeded in freeing Phillips and capturing Abduhl Wal-i-Musi. I-Musi was apprehended and has been arraigned in a New York Federal court. Jihadi Pirates of the Puntland region of the Horn of Africa in Somalia have captured more than 40 vessels in the Gulf of Aden and in 2008 collected over $50 million in ransoms.
The looming threat of Al Shabaab in Somalia
There is something more troubling looming in Somalia. Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabaab, (Ash-Shabaab, Hizbul Shabaab Arabic, “The Party of Youth”) is dangerously close to toppling the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) given recent attacks. Al Shabaab is considered an extremist Taliban militia that arose following the defeat of the Islamic Courts Union during the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia from 2006 to 2009 in support of the TFG. Our State Department designated Al Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization in 2008 as have both the Norwegian and Swedish Security Services. Al Shabaab applies Sharia law to Somalis as witnessed by the public stoning death of 13 year old Asha Duhula, a rape victim, and reports of payments made to Somali children to become fighters and suicide bombers.
Of immediate concern are the advances of Al Shabaab forces against the shrinking TFG control in Mogadishu and the presence of foreign fighters from North America and Europe. Note this London Times report on the latest fighting in Somalia:
The insurgents’ attacks have threatened to topple the shaky Government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed only weeks after the international community pledged $213 million to support him.
Senior security officials in the region say that the foreign fighters are behind the recent success of the extremists. More than 290 fighters from Britain, the US, Canada, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia entered Mogadishu in the past two weeks.
An intelligence report seen by The Times, which is due to be presented to the US Congress next week, states: “An estimated ten foreigners have taken the lead to command both Somali and foreign fighters in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.”
“I have no doubt that some of the foreign fighters are British as well as North American and Scandinavian,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the top Somali diplomat for the United Nations. One Western diplomat with experience in Somalia said: “These foreigners are the ones with al-Qaeda links. I would be surprised if Britons were not the leading foreign members of al-Shabaab.”
Sheik Sharif Ahmed, a Sufi judge and former ICU official is President of the shaky TFG in Somalia. He is condemned by Al Shabaab as a so-called “Moderate Islamist.” Sufis in Somalia are forming militias to combat the Al Shabaab advances, according to a New York Times report by Gettleman. Sheik Ahmed was interviewed by William Wallis of the Financial Times and noted the adoption of Sharia as national law in the war torn country.
FT: How significant is the recent passage in parliament of Sharia law in re-establishing state authority?
SSSA: It is very important for several reasons. One Sharia is a normal part of Muslim life and Muslim culture and tradition. Secondly there were people for whom this was a major factor, necessity, and in passing the bill and putting it through cabinet and parliament this enables us to show goodwill and to take that element out of the conflict and ensure it does not become an obstacle. It is part of the reconciliation process but also bringing people on board for the reconstruction of the state. Both psychologically and practically it is very important.
Note what an Al Shabaab spokesperson said in a Reuters report about the onslaught in Mogadishu:
Reuters spoke to an Al Shabaab official who claimed his group had made gains in northern Mogadishu.
“We killed an uncountable number of government fighters and moderate Islamists. Their dead bodies lie in the streets,” Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal, a senior Al-Shabaab official, told Reuters.
“Now north Mogadishu is under our control. We swept them from five key positions including Mogadishu football stadium.”
What is disconcerting is the role of Eritrea as spoiler in the complex web of Horn of Africa political dynamics, given the border conflict with Ethiopia and its alliance with Al Shabaab in the current Somali insurgency. Recently, Eritrea was reported to have supplied weapons to Al Shabaab. BBC News noted US concerns over Eritrean weapons shipments to Al Shabaab, reflected in these comments from Jonnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs:
“We’re extremely worried about the reports.”
“There seem to be fairly serious and creditable reports that al Shabaab does have, amongst its fighters, a number of individuals of South Asian and Chechen origin,” said Mr. Carson.
“This is a very disturbing situation and reflects the seriousness of the problem in Somalia.”
Mr. Carson also expressed concern about flights from Eritrea that were carrying weapons and ammunition to Somalia to supply al-Shabaab.
“There have been numerous reports that the government of Eritrea has, in fact, been supplying weapons and munitions to al-Shabaab. These are reports that we do find credible,” he said.
There have been reports that the Obama Administration may be planning possible actions to forestall an Al Shabaab takeover in Mogadishu. Note these comments from an NPR report , “U.S. Mulls Striking Somali Terrorist Training Camps”:
A senior government official tells NPR that because the U.S. military is worried about al-Shabaab, all options are on the table — including a military strike. The official said the most likely scenario would be an attack from the air, not boots on the ground.
Until now, the group has concentrated its efforts in Somalia, but officials, including National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter, worry about al-Shabaab’s future intentions.
“As a general matter, the focus has remained in Somalia. But I am not in a business where I am willing to bet the farm that it will remain that way,” Leiter said in a speech before the Aspen Institute earlier this month.
Al Shabaab American Somali Recruitment
The presence of naturalized American Somalis among Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia, has been a controversial and disturbing aspect of counterterrorism efforts here and abroad.
On December 4, 2008, a funeral was held at a Mosque in Bunsville, Minnesota for suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed, a 27 year old naturalized Somali American citizen who took the lives of 29 others in Somalia. Andrew McCarthy writing about the funeral quoted this FoxNews report
During the funeral Wednesday, Shirwa Ahmed was neither celebrated as a martyr, nor condemned as a killer. He was buried simply as a Muslim man, who died so close, yet so far, from home.
Ahmed came to America in 1996 under the State Department humanitarian refugee program with his family, settled into the largest Somali émigré community (Estimated 70,000) in the US and graduated from Roosevelt High School.
Minneapolis ABC Eyewitness News affiliate, KSTA on November 26, 2008 reported that federal investigators had determined that upwards of 40 American Somali youths may have left the US to join up with Al Shabaab in Somalia, as did hapless Shirwa Ahmed, the suicide bomber. The report noted:
Forty young Somali men from the Twin Cities are missing and federal investigators believe they may be back in Somalia training as terrorists.
“We have active Al Qaeda cells recruiting these people,” said Omar Jamal with the Somali Justice Advocacy Center.
Federal law enforcement sources told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they believe Shirwa Ahmed, from Minneapolis, was a suicide bomber who blew himself up during an attack in northern Somalia last month. They also believe he was a recruiter in the Twin Cities for a terrorist network.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS talked to Ahmed’s family. They said they have not heard from him in weeks.
“The bottom line is there are people who are recruiting here, kids who are being brainwashed to go back there and blow themselves up. That is the bottom line to this story,” explained Jamal.
CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledges a growing tie between Al Qaeda and Somali terrorist groups. Federal investigators believe these missing men are training for terrorist attacks overseas, but can’t be sure they won’t return the Twin Cities someday to carry out an attack.
Patrick Poole noted in this Pajamas Media report investigative evidence of recruitment here in the US of these naturalized American Somali Jihadis:
The FBI is investigating similar disappearances in other major Somali communities in Columbus, OH, Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, and Seattle. There are even reports coming from Europe, recently from Denmark, of Somali men returning home to fight with al-Shabaab and other terrorist organizations.
ABC News also reports that a Somali from Boston, Tarek Mehenna, a U.S. citizen, was arrested last month on his way to Somalia to wage jihad after being in contact with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert currently in federal prison after pleading guilty to training at a Somali terror training camp after being captured in Kenya with a Somali terrorist cell.
Another U.S. citizen, Ruben Luis Shumpert, an ex-convict Seattle barber and Muslim convert, was killed in Somalia earlier this year while fighting with al-Shabaab. Shumpert fled the U.S. for Somalia in 2006 before being sentenced on gun and counterfeit convictions associated with terrorism. In a taunting phone call to FBI agents after he had fled, Shumpert vowed that he and his Somali terrorist associates “would destroy everything the United States stood for.”
Predictably, Somali leaders in many of these cities are claiming surprise and shock that anyone from their communities and mosques would be leaving the U.S. for jihad. But as Daveed Gartenstein-Ross explained in a Fox News report, there exists an active recruiting and transportation network in the U.S., including Minneapolis, for Somali-run terrorist training camps, many of which have recently reopened. In many instances, these same Somali leaders purporting ignorance and innocence for the local media are not only aware of these recruiting operations, but have actively participated in them.
Thus, as seen in these cases from Minneapolis, Boston, Columbus, and Seattle, fears by authorities of Somali terror spreading to the U.S. through the local Somali community are hardly unfounded. Why Homeland Security and FBI officials have been so slow to respond to this growing threat remains unanswered.
There were other American fighters for Al Shabaab. Note this Jawa Report regarding the arrest of upwards of 15 such suspects in Somaliland, an autonomous region in Somalia bordering Puntland on the Gulf of Aden. Somaliland is a tacit ally of both the US and Ethiopia, with a secular parliamentary democracy.
It seems like there were more arrests involving US
citizens traitors, specifically Somali-Americans. Somaliland authorities arrested 11 Somali-Americans in connection to the smuggling of anti-aircraft weapons. The 11 Somali-Americans were trained by al Shabaab, aka the African Taliban, and according to authorities were supposed to carry out attacks in the capital of Somaliland.
So that brings the total of Somali-Americans arrested in Somaliland up to 15. At least five more traitors are on the loose somewhere on the horn of Africa. It’s a good thing al Shabaab’s website [in the US] has been shut down; this should cut down on their recruitment ability.
Somaliland is an autonomous part of Somalia considered “friendly” to the U.S. Unlike the rest of the country, it has something resembling a functioning government.
Another American, non-Somali, Al Shabaab volunteer fighter was featured in a video recruiting US and foreign fighters. Note this report:
Somalia’s Mujajideen Youth Movement, an apparent offshoot of the al-Shabaab group, has released a video (obtained by IntelCenter) featuring a figure who appears to be an American member. The guy in the video speaks American English and goes by the nom de guerre Abu Mansoor al-Amriki. The video is entitled “Ambush at Bardal,” but it’s unclear what the context of the video is so far. The video itself is 31 minutes and 37 seconds long and is the second one featuring an American English speaker from the group.
In the case of Minneapolis, the largest Somali émigré community in the US, the accusation was that a radical Mosque and Imams had actively abetted recruitment efforts. An Iconoclast blog post concerning a Minneapolis Post article about the Abubakar As-Saddique Mosque in Minneapolis denied recruiting of these ‘disappeared’ American Somali Youths.
What should you make of the spin in this Minnesota Post piece? Should you blame the ‘disappeared’ Somali youths on Al Shabaab website internet chatter? Is it a reflection of intense Inter-clan rivalry in Minneapolis? Or should we blame it on the Ethiopian (read Christian), invasion that allegedly destabilized the failed Somali state giving rise to a new wave of ‘humanitarian refugees’ in 2007? Is it the alleged newly found ‘nationalist’ fervor among émigré Somali Muslims? Or can we attribute it to recruiting by a fundamentalist Imam at the Mosque, Sheik Abdirahman Ahmed, whom the FBI put on a no fly list?
Sheik Abdirahman Ahmed was accused in the Minneapolis Post account of being the facilitator for Al Shabaab recruitment by none other than the relative of one of the disappeared boys:
Osman Ahmed turned rumor into sworn testimony (PDF) at a U.S. Senate hearing this month when he accused Abubakar’s leaders of brainwashing the men and trying to scare their families from talking about their disappearance.
Ahmed’s nephew, Burhan Hassan, is one of the missing. The uncle was testifying on behalf of several families before the U. S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs (HSGAC).
“We have been painted as bad people within the Somali community by the mosque management. We have been threatened for just speaking out,” Ahmed said in prepared testimony.
“They tell parents that if they report their missing kid to the FBI, that FBI will send the parents to Guantanamo Jail,” he continued. “Public threats were issued to us at Abu-Bakar Assidique for simply speaking with CNN and Newsweek.”
I read Ahmed’s accusations to Omar Hurre, executive director of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center which includes the mosque.
“Lies…very clear lies,” Hurre said.
He insisted leaders at the mosque never have preached radicalism or violence.
“The parents initially came to us when they missed their kids and asked us what was going on,” he said. “But we never told any parent that you need to report your son to the government or you do not need to report. We never directed any parent what to do about those missing kids, let alone tell them you will end up in Guantanamo.”
How are they indoctrinated?
How are these American Al Shabaab recruits indoctrinated? The tools include websites, chat rooms and hip hop videos. On January 23rd, 2009, the U.S. government ordered the American al Shabaab website, www.kataaib.net that had been hosted since 2007 by Dotster based in Vancouver, Washington, shut down. Dotster had alleged this was a violation of ‘free speech.’ This government order followed a threat to disrupt the Obama Inauguration conveyed via the website that heightened security and caught the attention of federal counter-terrorism authorities. Witness this comment in a Washington Post article about the incident:
“Authorities at all levels are vigorously pursuing any lead relating to this threat information,” DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said, saying Obama administration officials have been informed of the investigation. “The Transition Team has been briefed and is fully integrated into the process.”
Another U.S. counter-terrorism official said intelligence agencies were “not dismissive” of the threat but stressed the lack of corroboration and detail. The tip appears to have originated with U.S. law enforcement agencies, as opposed to overseas operatives.
Now that the US Website for Al Shabaab has folded, where do the recruits get their information and indoctrination?. Here is what our colleague Joseph Shahda, who monitors terrorist websites and chat rooms ,told us in an email:
There is one Somali terrorist forum affiliated with the Al Shabaab terrorist group and it is called “Al Qimmah Islamic Network” with URL address http://www.alqimmah.net/ . This forum is hosted by a Swedish ISP called FIBERDIREKT-1-NET. The IP address for this Somali terrorist forum is “18.104.22.168”.
Also “Al Shabaab” terrorist group press releases and propaganda activities are widely reported on the major Arabic Islamic terrorist forums by a semi-official Al Qaeda media outlet called “Global Islamic Media Front” or short for “GIMF”. It publishes “Al Shabaab” terrorist propaganda on the major terrorist forums such as “al falojah” and “shoomookh al Islam”. In the last six months there has been a great interest on the terrorist forums about Somalia and the “Al Shabaab” terrorist group. Some posts on the terrorist forums have been calling on the forums’ members to go to Somalia and join the terrorists there.
Another means of indoctrination is the use of ‘hip hop videos.” Note this CNN report, “Al Qaeda exporting jihad with a hip-hop vibe.”
The latest video from Somalia’s al Qaeda-backed Al-Shabaab wing is as slickly produced as a reality TV show but with a startling message — complete with a hip-hop jihad vibe.
“Mortar by mortar, shell by shell, only going to stop when I send them to hell,” the unidentified voice raps on the video, which runs at least 18 minutes.
The video also shows a man reported to be Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, dubbed “The American” by al Qaeda. He apparently is now in Somalia training and counseling Somalis from North America and Europe. He speaks in American English.
“Away from your family, away from our friends, away from ice, candy bars, all those things is because we’re waiting to meet the enemy,” says the man believed to be al-Amriki.
“We’re seeing perhaps their most sophisticated attempt so far to really reach an audience of potential recruits in America, and that’s one of the things that made that video very significant,” said Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a Washington-based research group that tracks al Qaeda’s development and messages.
“They’re casting it in a way that’s going to speak to the youth of today,” Venzke said. “Most of the time, what we’re seeing in their videos directly parallels what the groups are doing operationally, what they are targeting, where they’re recruiting.”
Immigration Fraud by Somalis in the Family Re-unification P-3 Visa Program
Erick Stackelbeck, Washington, DC-based counter terrorism journalist for CBN broadcast a filmed segment, “Somali Muslims Changed Small Community” on the Somali immigrant impact in Shelbyville, Tennessee in March, 2009. In his report he interviewed State Department officials at the Bureau of Refugees, Population, and Migration. He captured this telling insight into how our government processes and views refugee absorption in America:
The State Department helps resettle refugees from war-torn countries like Somalia in the United States. The resettlement project is one part of a taxpayer-funded refugee aid program with a billion dollar budget.
Immigrants are chosen from UN refugee camps. The selected refugees then undergo a few days of cultural orientation and are soon on their way to America.
Although most of the refuges are repatriated to their home countries, the U.S. takes in more refugees than any other nation–with a cap of about 80,000 this year.
“What we do is we look at the most vulnerable groups of refugees,” said Todd Pierce of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. “One group we’ve tried to help is Iraqi Christians and those who’ve worked with U.S. and Coalition forces.”
Pierce said the resettlement program helps improve America ‘s image in the eyes of the world.
“It’s one of the best facets of America , that we are a very generous, hospitable country,” he said. “This is something that has been bipartisan for decades now–we’ve brought people in….we look at Africa, we look at the Middle East, we look at Southeast Asia .”
Best facet for America? In the case of Somali immigrants, that may not be the case given the rise of possible homegrown naturalized Somali youths who have disappeared to war torn Somalia as Jihadi recruits. Moreover, the State department and Department of Homeland Security have uncovered massive immigration fraud by Somalis who want to come here.
The Refugee Resettlement Watch (RRW) blog posted revelations last November from a US State Department fact sheet on the suspension of the African refugee family reunification P-3 program in August 2008 because of evidence of wide spread fraud. RRW noted that “the State Dept. has admitted that 80% of Somali family reunification cases involve fraud.” These findings were based in part on Homeland Security INS DNA testing in Somali refugee camps in Kenya.
Note this LiveLeak post on the State Department Somali immigration fraud revelations:
The State Department confirmed that massive immigration fraud has been perpetrated overwhelmingly by Africans claimed as close kin (parent, spouse, minor child) by legal residents in the United States. (According to a report in the City Pages in Minneapolis, this scam has been netting some unknowns along the food chain up to $10,000 per head.) Given that Somalis form the largest bloc of African immigrants to the United States, this becomes another story with Somalis playing a starring role.
How massive was this fraud? After initiating a DNA testing program among “family” members claiming P-3 status in Africa — where 95 percent of the P-3 applications originate primarily among Somalis, Ethiopians and Liberians — the State Department learned that out of 3,500 refugees tested it could only confirm family matches “in fewer than 20 percent of cases.” No wonder the Secretary of State didn’t call a giant press conference to trumpet her department’s findings.
The P-3 program has brought upward of 36,000 Africans into the United States just since 2003 (with another 400 arriving from the rest of the world), so what now?
The State Department is considering re-opening the maligned Family Reunification P-3 Visa program this year because of the alleged strain it places on families with refugee dependents abroad.
Note these comments in the Houston Chronicle from a State department program spokesman, Fred Lash, about the abuses in the Family reunification program:
After the initial findings in Kenya, the DNA testing was expanded to other African countries that participated in the program and found varying rates of fraud, said Fred Lash, a State Department spokesman.
He said final results of the testing are not yet available, but the results were troubling enough that U.S. officials suspended the program throughout the world.
Admissions have dropped dramatically since the start of the fraud investigation — from 5,090 in 2007 to 1,540 in 2008. Since October, only 139 family members of refugees have arrived through the program.
Lash said the U.S. government plans to reinstate the program by the end of this year. He said it will require more stringent biometric checks in the future, most likely through DNA testing. The State Department and DHS have not said whether that testing would include “anchor” relatives in the U.S.
Sources inform us that there have been no Congressional requests for an independent GAO investigation of the fraud in the suspended family reunification P-3 Visa program as a precondition for re-opening the program. Based on refugee processing reports from the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Somali refugees admitted to the US for the current Fiscal year through April 30, 2009 were 2,232 out of a total of 4,301 for all of Africa.
The RRW posting prompted award winning investigative reporter Brian Mosely to conduct his own investigations into the matter in Tennessee culminating in a Times- Gazette article, “Refugee program stayed after feds confirm fraud.” We had interviewed Mosley regarding the problems with absorption of Somali employees at a local Tyson’s poultry processing plant in the Middle Tennessee community. In an article, Somalis, Shelbyville and Severe Culture Shock.
Mosely found that Tennessee state refugee agency coordinators, a local volunteer agency and Tennessee immigrant advocacy groups involved with Somali refugee resettlement were dismissive of the US State Department findings of fraud in the African refugee family reunification program. Note these comments:
When asked about the fraud described, Catalina Nieto, director of advocacy and educational programs for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said that the State Department fact sheet is “a very general report and it is referring to all refugees, not particular to Shelbyville.”
The rights group is made up of a coalition of immigrants, refugees and their American-based supporters who work to “improve the rights and the public’s perception of Tennessee’s rapidly growing foreign-born population.”
“We are talking about folks who are eager to reunite with their families and are eager to bring their friends and families to a safe and peaceful place,” Nieto said.
Holly Johnson, State Refugee Coordinator for the Tennessee Office for Refugees said Friday that to her knowledge, the suspension “has not had a significant impact on the local program.”
“It will impact refugees nationwide who have submitted a non-fraudulent application for a parent, spouse, or minor child because they will be separated from their family indefinitely,” she said.
Johnson said all resettlement agencies “are under strict guidelines regarding the reporting of suspected fraud in refugee families, and we are no different.”
“I take it very seriously,” Johnson told the Times-Gazette. “Of the hundreds of resettlement cases that I have handled in the ten years that I have worked in the local resettlement program, there were only two cases (in the state) where I suspected the possibility of fraud.”
The matter of possible immigration fraud is far broader than the abuses cited in the suspension of the P-3 (family reunification) program by the State Department.
A research report entitled; “Out of Africa: Somali Bantu and the paradigm shift in Refugee Resettlement” published by the Center for Immigration Studies in 2003, noted that Bantus are a threatened minority in Somalia and considered ‘Extremely Vulnerable Persons’ by the UNHCR, as they were treated as virtual slaves by Somali clans. According to the CIS study and other sources, many Somalis represent that they are Bantus to become eligible for humanitarian status.
I exchanged email with Mosely in which he made this telling comment:
If the figures put out by the State Department are accurate, then this means that a large majority of refugees that have come here may have done so under false pretenses. It raises questions about the entire P-3 program. Why haven’t we heard stories about refugees not being reunited with their families? And if the people arriving here aren’t family members, who are they? Why aren’t the anchor refugees complaining about these folks coming over here instead of their loved ones? Who profits from this fraud and why is it committed in the first place? This also could raise serious questions about refugee resettlement and the organizations that send these people here.
These comments from Mosley are further complicated by a recent development in Shelbyville, the alleged disappearance of significant numbers of Somali men from the Tyson plant located there. These alleged disappearances have not been confirmed by local Somali leaders or Tyson management. These disappearances could be recession related or something more, we don’t know. A recent FrontPageMagazine article, “Muslim Row” noted unconfirmed reports that a contingent of Somalis had moved to a Jamaat ul-Fuqra para-military compound located in Dover, Tennessee. These questions remain unresolved. Why did the Shelbyville Somalis leave their families and where did they go?
Mired in PC-The Senate HSGAC Hearings on the Al Shabaab threat in The US
Earlier, we noted the testimony presented by a relative of one of the Minneapolis ‘disappeared ‘ American Somali youths presented at a HSGAC Hearing in March, 2009. That Hearing in the view of Patrick Poole in a Pajamas Media article “What The Senators didn’t Hear About Somali Jihadists?”failed to identify the threat of Al Shabaab US terrorist trainees. Instead both FBI and National Counter terrorism panelists engaged in ‘sociobabble’ rather than the underlying Islamic Jihad doctrine promulgated in American Mosques by radical Imams that led to the Al Shabaab recruitments. See also as useful digest of the Senate HSGAC hearings at Refugee Resettlement Watch.
Here are Poole’s assessment of the HSGAC Hearings.
A serious new terrorist threat is on the horizon — but government officials are too politically correct to face it.
Anyone following this issue closely in recent months knows the potential danger Somali jihadists carrying American passports pose to our national security, but you wouldn’t get that impression listening to Wednesday’s hearing. If Senator Lieberman and his Homeland Security Committee colleagues want to avoid a potential homegrown 9/11, they’re going to have to circumvent the official channels and the politically correct agency propaganda to get an accurate assessment of how serious the threat is and how rapidly it is growing.
Note these comments from the FBI and National Counter Terrorism panelists at the HSGAC Hearing:
J. Phillip Mudd, Associate Executive Assistant Director, National Security Branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, in his written testimony:
On balance, we are concerned about the recruitment of individuals from the United States to Somalia and their involvement in training or fighting there. While there are likely a variety of motivations affecting such individuals, it remains unclear whether the allure of Somalia as an active conflict zone has diminished in the wake of Ethiopia’s withdrawal—thereby removing a primary grievance based on nationalism—or whether it will continue to attract individuals from the West who see Somalia as a permissive environment given ongoing instability.
Andrew M. Liepman, Deputy Director for Intelligence, National Counterterrorism Center, in his written testimony:
So, what causes the radicalization of a small but significant number of Somali-American youth? The answer is complex—it is the result of a number of factors, as I mentioned previously—that come together occasionally when dynamic, influential leaders gain access to despondent, disenfranchised young men. Sophisticated extremist recruiters target vulnerable individuals who lack structure and definition in their lives, by offering what parents and outsiders often view as a seemingly innocuous alternative to more common violent subcultures associated with gangs and criminality. These recruiters subject individuals to religiously inspired indoctrination to move them toward violent extremism. They target vulnerable young men—many of them refugees who came here as small children or who are children of immigrants—torn between their parents’ traditional ethnic, tribal, and clan identities and the new cultures and traditions offered by American society. Caught between two worlds, and lacking structure and definition in their lives at home, some youths become susceptible to the draw of gangs and criminality, and in some cases religious or nationalistic extremism. The new group identities that these leaders provide to their followers can expose them to forces that may move them toward violent extremism against people and institutions they have learned to regard as enemies.
The HSGAC Hearings were mired in a misguided paradigm. They view Islamic extremists in the US Somali community as isolated to a fringe group. Recruiters foster gang like behavior among American Somali Muslim youths and enable them to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab as ‘nationalist freedom fighters’. This paradigm is traceable to alleged experts like Dr. Marc Sagerman who propound this specious theory and evade the core values of Jihad at our peril.
FBI Director Mueller in a Council of Foreign Relations speech on Global Terrorism underscored this cultural divide:
“The prospect of young men, indoctrinated and radicalized within their own communities, and induced to travel to such countries to take up arms – and to kill themselves and perhaps many others – is a perversion of the immigrant story.”
The Risk of “Swarming’ Attacks by Returning Somali Jihadis
We saw in the tragedy in Mumbai, India, last year, the devastation, death and destruction wrought by a ‘swarming attack’ of a limited number of Kashmiri and Pakistani extremists. Counter terrorism experts and the FBI consider such swarming attacks as a high risk in America. Note these comments from a New York Times Opinion piece by James Arquilla, “The Coming Swarm”
Americans should brace for a coming swarm. Right now, most of our cities would be as hard-pressed as Mumbai was to deal with several simultaneous attacks. Our elite federal and military counterterrorist units would most likely find their responses slowed, to varying degrees, by distance and the need to clarify jurisdiction.
While the specifics of the federal counterterrorism strategy are classified, what is in the public record indicates that the plan contemplates having to deal with as many as three sites being simultaneously hit and using “overwhelming force” against the terrorists, which probably means mustering as many as 3,000 ground troops to the site. If that’s an accurate picture, it doesn’t bode well. We would most likely have far too few such elite units for dealing with a large number of small terrorist teams carrying out simultaneous attacks across a region or even a single city.
Nightmare possibilities include synchronized assaults on several shopping malls, high-rise office buildings or other places that have lots of people and relatively few exits.
Such attacks could be perpetrated by homegrown Jihadis like those naturalized American Somali youths, alleged to have ‘disappeared’ to join Al Shabaab militia groups in Somalia. Those returnees could constitute cadres to train fellow American Somali youths. They could orchestrate swarming attacks against public facilities in this country using so-called low tech means: cheap weapons and pickup trucks. These possible swarming attacks could be devastating ‘mini- 9/11events.’ Deadly scenarios might include simultaneous attacks against exposed queues of customers at so-called ‘big box stores’ especially on high sales days like Black Friday, the start of the Christmas holiday retailing season. The casualties from such orchestrated swarming attacks could be devastating and the economic impacts, significant. Currently, we don’t have local counter terrorism forces trained in weapons and tactics to combat Mumbai-type swarming attacks in high risk communities in this country. We need to make that an important counter terrorism priority, including penetration of such local Jihadi networks. This penetration effort would be unlike that of the Fort Dix Six case and the recent NYC Temple bombing plot as it would not entail so-called ‘sting operations’ verging on entrapment.
UN control of humanitarian refugee processing on behalf of the US State Department has introduced Jihadis among the estimated 200,000 Somali immigrants in America. The Somalis have brought with them strict Islamic Sharia values that violate our Constitution and Civil Rights laws and mock our Judeo Christian values. Still worse, they have brought with them undetected contagious diseases like TB, Hepatitis and HIV that evaded health screening prior to their entry to America. Moreover, as attested to by INS DNA tests conducted in refugee camps in Kenya, there is massive fraud committed in the suspended Family Reunification P-3 Visa program. We need to enlist Homeland Security to conduct DNA testing here among alleged Somali ‘anchor’ family members. Moreover, as we stated earlier, we need Members of Congress to commission GAO audits of the Family Reunification Visa program as a condition for reopening it.
Further, we need to establish more effective caps on Somali refugee quotas and negotiate possible diversion to other countries under the control of the UNHCR.
Radical Somali Imams with so-called religious order Visas may be found to have indoctrinated naturalized American youths in extremist Islamic Jihad violence. The H-1 Visas for religious orders from countries harboring extremist Muslim clerics must be tightened up to prevent such infiltration in Muslim communities in America
FBI and local counter terrorism authorities need to step up monitoring of the radical Somali émigré communities In the US. This is a vital necessity to prevent swarming attack threats from returning American Somali Al Shabaab fighters who evade capture by US immigration and counter terrorism authorities. According to an article in WorldNetDaily, the FBI has launched such an effort beginning with the Washington, DC metro area.
We need a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy,. The US is vulnerable to home-grown naturalized Somali Jihadis initiating devastating Mumbai-type swarming attacks.
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