Federal officials on Monday unsealed terrorism-related charges against men they say were key actors in a recruitment effort that led roughly 20 young Americans to join a violent insurgent group in Somalia with ties to Al Qaeda.
With eight new suspects charged Monday, the authorities have implicated 14 people in the case, one of the most extensive domestic terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11 attacks. Some of them have been arrested; others are at large, including several believed to be still fighting with the Somali group, Al Shabab.
The case represents the largest group of American citizens suspected of joining an extremist movement affiliated with Al Qaeda, senior officials said. Many of the recruits had come to America as young refugees fleeing a brutal civil war, only to settle in a gang-ridden enclave of Minneapolis. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — “one of the most extensive domestic terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11 attacks” — “the largest group of American citizens suspected of joining an extremist movement affiliated with Al Qaeda”…
Wow! This has to be a landmark event in the war on terrorism! The high-fives must really have been thrown around at the FBI after cracking open a major operation like this. Not another embarrassing headline like this one from a few months ago: “FBI ‘lured dimwits’ into terror plot.”
Except… “Domestic terrorism investigations” seems like a bit of a stretch. The closest this report gets to suggesting that any of these young Somali Americans were intent on engaging in an act of domestic terrorism is to say: “Law enforcement officials are concerned that the recruits, who hold American passports, could be commissioned to return to the United States to carry out attacks here, though so far there is no evidence of such plots.”
Al Shabab might be labeled a terrorist organization and it might have ties to al Qaeda, but make no mistake: it is fighting a real war with conventional war-ambitions — the conquest of territory. Al Shabab wants to control Somalia. It’s hard to imagine how sponsoring acts of terrorism elsewhere would further that strategic goal.
Should we be concerned that American kids are being enticed into a desperate and bloody conflict far away? Certainly.
But maybe that concern should not be restricted to the fate of kids at risk in Minneapolis. Maybe it should also include kids in New York and elsewhere who are being recruited to serve in the Israeli Defense Force.