Much of Somalia is under the control of an Islamic militia called al-Shabab, whose hobbies include piracy and supporting al-Qaeda. Their Christmas gift to America was a blood-curdling speech on Somali radio, in which a spokesman said, “We tell the American President Barack Obama to embrace Islam before we come to this country.”
Somali terrorists are already here. The Justice Department has indicted 14 people in three different states for funneling thousands of dollars to al-Shabab. The FBI has been investigating the sudden disappearance of young Somali-Americans over the past couple of years, working on a theory they were recruited into al-Shabab by operatives in Minnesota.
In February, the FBI busted a Virginia associate of al-Shabab who is thought to have smuggled hundreds of Somalis across our porous southern border. The would-be Oregon Christmas Tree Bomber, 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, is of Somali birth. According to the Associated Press, at least three al-Shabab suicide bombers deployed in Somalia proved to be American recruits. Meanwhile, Somali terrorism has made itself felt in Europe as well as the United States, as highlighted by last week’s arrest of a dozen terror suspects of in the Netherlands.
Estimates of the Somali population in the United States vary widely, ranging from 70,000 to 200,000 according to a March 2009 report by Deputy Director of Intelligence Andrew Liepman. As a group, they are noted for their insularity, high unemployment, and poverty – a combination of elements which produces fertile ground for al-Shabab recruitment, and good cover for radical elements, who thrive in isolated communities filled with desperately unhappy people who don’t like talking to the authorities. As Liepman says in his report, radicalization is the result of “a number of factors” which “come together occasionally when dynamic, influential leaders gain access to despondent, disenfranchised young men.”
Rival terrorist group Hizbul Islam was recently absorbed by al-Shabab, strengthening their position and removing their primary domestic rival. The radio broadcast calling President Obama to Islam originated from a meeting between leaders of the two organizations. They also announced their united determination to overthrow the U.N.-backed government and wipe out the African Union peacekeepers supporting it.
The Associated Press notes that “Analysts fear that Al Qaeda-linked insurgents are also gaining ground across the Gulf of Aden in the unstable nation of Yemen. If Yemen fell, that would mean failed states on either side of the shipping route leading into the strategically vital Suez Canal, the route taken by a substantial portion of the world’s oil shipments.” The possibility of Western forces intervening to forestall such an unhappy strategic climate may be leading al-Shabab to flex its muscles around the world. Hopefully patriotic and law-abiding leaders of the Somali-American community will take the threat as seriously as the FBI and Justice Department.