Members from the Somali community in Minnesota left for Washington D.C. earlier this week and today testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman. Abdirahman Mukhtar and Osman Ahmed, both from the Minneapolis area, presented their concerns and what they know about the terror recruitment to federal officials.
Abdirahman Mukhtar is a Youth Program Manager for the Somali Confederation of Minnesota at the Brian Coyle Center. At the hearing, Sen. Lieberman asked Mukhtar to explain how those guys ended up in that situation meaning to commit suicide act?
“I know many friends of mine who are in jail or in gangs, other successful ones, so I think it is a personal choice.” responded Abdirahman Mukhtar.
Abdirahman added that most of the parents and their children in the community have missed a formal preliminary education due to the ongoing nearly two decades of civil war in the country. When these kids come to United States, they face another challenge in the schools.
“We are being enrolled according to our age instead of academic levels,” said Mukhtar speaking some sort of a personal experience, adding that school itself becomes the first big challenge to some of the kids and eventually leads some of the kids to turn in a different direction, such as dropping out, gangs and so on.
“Missing teens created fear and anguish among their families and the community in general,” said Osman Ahmed, speaking about the horrible experience of searching for his own nephew, Burhan Hasan, who was one of the known teens who left for Somalia to join the extremist. Osman said that there are currently five known teens among those missing, mentioning their names, three University of Minnesota students, one Minneapolis Technical College student and the other one a St. Paul Hayden high school student.
Since last October, when apparently the news of the suicide bombing in Somalia and missing teens and Minnesota link surfaced, it sent shock waves and frustration among the community nationwide, most of them still trying to heal the scars of decades old civil war. What it is more surprising is that media in Europe are also reporting similar activities over there. Some said there are reports about the disappearance of teens from London and other big cities in United Kingdom, later showing up in the streets of Mogadishu. It is said what the officials in the FBI or their counterparts in Europe concerns are that may be someday these young men decide to come back in Europe and North America to blow themselves up.
Most of the experts following the situation conclude that the problem is being overstated and that the Somalis are similar to those immigrants who came from countries of civil unrest. Saying it is possible to see individual or few individuals behaving different but that is small number comparing the thousands of law abiding Somalis throughout the nation.