WASHINGTON (AP) — Twice as many Americans as previously reported by law enforcement have traveled overseas to join an al-Qaida-linked organization, a congressional investigation found.

The findings, discussed in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, are an indication the Somalia-based terrorist group has an even deeper reach into the U.S.

More than 40 Americans have traveled to war-torn Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabab, an investigation by Republican staff on the House Homeland Security Committee found.

Al-Shabab, which initially focused on regional grievances, has expanded its focus to include targeting the West and recruiting Americans toward that cause.

Counterterrorism officials fear the terror group with ties to al-Qaida is a growing threat to the U.S. In at least one instance, the government said, al-Shabab received terror training from al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen.

Publicly, authorities have said at least 21 men left the Minneapolis area for Somalia since late 2007 and are believed to have joined the terror group. Four have died in the country, according to information from the FBI and family members who spoke to The Associated Press.

Others are feared dead, and the committee’s investigation found that at least 15 of the 40 Americans have been killed while fighting. In recent years, more than 35 people from across the U.S. have been charged with connections to al-Shabab, including some who have been indicted for raising money to fund the terror group.

Details of the findings came out during the third in a series of congressional hearings examining the radical Islamic terror threat in the U.S.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has been criticized for singling out one religion instead of looking at all issues of domestic extremism across the country. In response, King said only one group has killed 3,000 Americans: al-Qaida, a terrorist organization that espouses a violent interpretation of Islam.

The top Democrat on the committee said the threat from al-Shabab has been overstated, as the number of people who left the U.S. to go to Somalia is small and confined to a two-year period.

“Al-Shabab does not appear to present any danger to this homeland,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said.

Thompson’s assessment is in direct contrast to that of some intelligence officials in the Obama administration.

Just Tuesday, the president’s choice to lead the country’s top terror analysis center told senators that the threat from al-Qaida affiliates around the world presents challenges.

“I’m especially concerned about the threat to the United States homeland from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — AQAP, we call it — as well as threats emanating from terrorist safe havens in Somalia and elsewhere,” Matt Olsen said during his confirmation hearing Tuesday to be director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Minnesota, home to the largest Somali community in America, has been the center of the federal investigation into the travels and recruitment of those who are believed to have joined al-Shabab, and these hearings have prompted some there to warn against generalizations about Somalis or Muslims. The mayor of Minneapolis and others issued statements touting the work of successful Somalis in Minnesota and noting their positive contributions to society, as business owners, students, religious leaders and elected officials.

Police Chief Thomas Smith of St. Paul, Minn., said his department has worked hard to build connections with the Somali community and hosts events like youth soccer games and other activities to build trust.

“Somali-American youth that may be tempted by an ideology of radicalization can now look to an expanded network of trust, including police officer mentors to provide support, resources and guidance to steer them in a positive direction,” Smith told lawmakers Wednesday.

In 2007, a group of Minneapolis-area Somalis held secret meetings to plan trips to Somalia and created fake itineraries to fool family members, the government has said. Some went to malls and apartments, falsely telling members of the Somali community they were raising money to build a mosque or help relief efforts in Somalia, federal prosecutors have said. The money actually went to the travelers, who planned to join one group member’s relative — a senior member of al-Shabab in Somalia.

E.K. Wilson, FBI supervisory special agent overseeing the investigation in Minneapolis, said the bureau is only confirming two deaths of those who could be identified through DNA or fingerprints.

“We’re aware of others that have been reported to be dead,” Wilson told The AP. “We’re monitoring that continually. But absent any remains or absent any sort of diplomatic notification, there’s not really anything to confirm.”

Experts said the threat of al-Shabab cannot be discounted just because the group has never carried out an attack against the U.S. They point to the Nigerian man, working for al-Qaida’s Yemen branch, who tried to bring down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009.

“The reality is we don’t know what terrorist organizations are able to do looking forward. They are in some regards more aspirational than operational,” W. Anders Folk, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Minnesota, told lawmakers Wednesday. “We don’t know when they are going to cross the line from aspiration to operation.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (49)
  1. The Architool says:

    I wonder what kevin and the architect will have to say about this.

    1. Real Talk says:

      I dont know about your feud with Kevin or “the architect” or anything like that.

      I just wanted to point out that anyone who adopts the handle “the architect” should have their civil rights stripped, and extrodinary renditition their arse to a prison somewhere in the middle east. How pompous, immature and grandious do you have to be to come up with that handle? So funny, how if we actually got to see a picture of this “architect” we would all have the best and last laugh.

      1. Architech Wannabe says:

        Yeah but I have a 6 figure income and a really big house and my mommy lives on a lake and well I got all this with a 2 year degree. My life is great and yours must suck!

  2. Real Talk says:

    To me the real problem is that only 15 of 40 have died so far. If we can somehow increase that ratio to about 99% ….we should consider having our government spousor that program and send as many back as humanly possible.

  3. John says:

    The fact that the Twin Cities has such a huge population of Somali’s is something to most definitely worry about and then to find out that more than 40 of them have travelled from Minnesota back to Somalia after being trained and radicalized by Al-Quida linked terrorist groups is even more alarming (the article mentions that they were “americans”…I hardly think so, if they were Somalians who traveled back to their Country!)
    When are State Lawmakers gong to finally wakeup and really start dealing with this serious problem?! What’s it going to take….a Somali female suicide bomber on Lightrail during rush hour? A group of Somali’s carrying out mass shootings of innocent people or bombings of Metro Tranist similar to what happened in Mumbai or perhaps a major terrorist incident at The Mall Of Americas by a group of well armed and well planned Somali terrorist group who wants to show off and make a statement?
    Lawmakers need to get their act together! The Somali’s here in Minneapolis/St. Paul need to be watched, and watched VERY closely by law enforcement officials now, as well as in the future! All it takes is just one of those radicalized vermin to come back from Somalia and do some serious harm to a lot of potentially innocent victims.
    My comment is not meant to be viewed as racist or anti-muslim….it is simply a statement of concern and from someone who has served in the US Military and has been to the Middle East.
    You know, what with the recent Government shutdown at the Capitol? It really looks like Lawmakers could really care less about the average citizen…all they are concerned with is their own agenda.

    1. Jim says:

      Considering there have been NO such attacks in the state of Minnesota, what do you propose? A female suicide bomber on a train would be a horrible thing, but it’s pure fantasy at this point. This is still a free country, and people who have committed no crimes should not be hassled by the government.

      1. Right Jim? says:

        Also a suicide bomber on the LRT would just be killing more somlians…. not sure what that would accomplish.

        1. Jim says:

          Because only Somalis ride the LRT? I wouldn’t know, I’ve never actually been on it.

          It’s pretty clear to me that if “conservatives” like you don’t have fear and stereotypes, they have nothing.

          1. Right Jim? says:

            Conservatives like to use external fear and stereotypes against immigrants for example. Liberals like to use internal stereotypes against straights and white people specifically males. You wouldn’t know about the LRT or downtown Minneapolis or the city because you like to stay in your suburb and claim we need to spend spend spend at the expense of white male class smashers.

            1. Jim says:

              “Liberals like to use internal stereotypes against straights and white people specifically males…. you like to stay in your suburb”

              As a liberal white male who lives in Minneapolis and is married to a woman, I find your fact-free post pretty entertaining. Complete rubbish, but entertaining nonetheless.

              1. Right Jim? says:

                So liberal don’t attack anyone? They are just regular people who like spending…. a lot?

                1. Jim says:

                  LOL. Did I write something about liberals attacking people?

                  You asserted in your post that liberals like me perpetuate stereotypes about straight, white, males who live in the city, but I am, in fact, a straight, white, male who lives in Minneapolis. Stop posting nonsense.

      2. dan says:

        So in your infinite homeland security wisdom, you dont prepare for an attack you only react? I guess if that works for you.

        1. Jim says:

          I have no problem preparing for an attack. But I’ll ask again, what should we do? Kick them all out? Make them all live in one neighborhood so the cops can watch them? What? Go ahead and present your plan for preventing terror attacks in Minnesota.

          1. dan says:


            For the 21 Somalies that traveled overseas to join a terror group they should be placed on high alert along with their entire family and friends until it can be determined they are not a threat. Phone tapping, survelence or whatever it takes. Obviously they should be on the no-fly list immediately.

            1. Jim says:

              I agree with that first part but not the rest. The 21 should be watched, etc. But not their families and friends. If a friend of yours commits a crime should the cops start surveilling you and your family? Should the cops be allowed to listen to your phone conversations if your cousin joins some radical group?

              I don’t have all the answers, but guilt by association is wrong.

              1. dan says:

                Who friends a terrorists? Another terrorists! Do you think any of the 40 some were related? High alert until they are determined not to be a threat!

                1. Jim says:

                  I knew a guy in high school who went to jail for six years for selling meth. Should the cops have bugged my phone just because I knew the guy?

                  People in this country enjoy the presumption of innocence. We don’t have to prove that we’re NOT guilty, the authorities have to prove that we ARE.

              2. dan says:

                So you are going to compare selling Meth to a Terrorists? I am done with this conversation.

                1. Jim says:

                  I’m comparing two crimes.

                  You apparently don’t like our justice system. You think that people should be observed and have their conversations taped and analyzed because of who they know or where they’re from or what they look like. You think people are guilty until proven innocent. But you’re wrong, and no ranting about terrorists is going to change that.

    2. agree says:

      I agree with John also in the St Cloud area.What does it take for people to wake up. They said the twin towers would never come down either. Wake up before it is too late people

  4. Les says:

    Don’t worry our open border policy will never hurt us. Yeah right

    1. Joe says:

      Les you bigot.
      Quit being such a hate monger. Islam is a religion of peace. It’s your fault for not understanding them and being more accommodating that they are being radicalized. These new immigrants need to get help to work the system like other groups of people so they too can not feel the need to do anything let alone kill Americans.

      1. Jim says:

        You use words like “them” and “they” a lot as if Muslims around the world are all in agreement, or even speak the same language. The world must seem like a very simple place to you, but reality is a different matter. Or should I assume that since the shooter in Norway, for example, was a white Christian that he represents you as well?

        1. Joe says:

          Why do you assume I am white or christian? Also Christianity is a religion of peace. It’s your fault for not understanding them and being more accommodating that they are being radicalized.

          1. Jim says:

            “Why do you assume I am white or christian?” Because most Minnesotans are. Do you feel kinship with that Norwegian guy or not?

            Ah, the old “religion of peace” argument. That’s preposterous. Millions of people have been killed in the name of Jesus. For example, here’s a warm and fuzzy passage from the bible:

            “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.” Deuteronomy 20:10-17

            1. Joe says:

              Nope, I am not Norwegian just part of the white oppressive class (with no heritage or culture I might add) that wants to stomp out terrorism before it starts. That Norwegian guy nor timothy McVeigh were trained in Minnesota, but on the other hand 9/11 hijackers and “many” I don’t have an exact number (15?) were radicalized here and decided to return to Somalia to kill people. Being a guy that likes to keep score, seems like profiling isn’t right or fair but seems justified. I am still ticked about having to take my shoes off to go through security at the airport when they haven’t caught ANYONE.

              1. Jim says:

                I also want to stomp out terrorism before it starts, but I’m not going to arrest every person from every group that has produced a terrorist. We’d all be in jail if we did that. Some groups produce more terrorists than others, I get that. But locking people up by association is a dangerous path to go down.

                The 9/11 terrorists were not “radicalized” here, they were radicals when they arrived and received flight training in Florida. But I’m not sure what this has to do the story or Minnesota.

                I thought we had to take our shoes off because of that guy who had a bomb in his shoe on an airplane a few years ago?

                1. Joe says:

                  Zacarias Moussaoui didn’t get trained in Eagan? Suspected but then not dealt with until after 9/11 so the FBI out of line. We need to take our shoes off to make sure that they haven’t been “tampered with” because of americans that were radicalized.

                2. Jim says:

                  Joe, If the FBI knew about this Moussaoui guy and didn’t do anything about it while he was here, then they blew it big time. The problem, though, is that in this country people have rights, and you can’t throw someone in jail for what they might do. Maybe if the world were like the movie Minority Report we’d be able to stop all terrorist attacks before they happen. But Tom Cruise is not going to save us and I don’t want to live in a fearful police state where every person who might possibly become a terrorist at some point in the future is left to rot in jail.

  5. Lace says:

    You people are so brainwashed. Al Qaeda is not a terrorist group. It’s not even a group of people at all. Keep believing what the media and your Giant Talking TV tell you. All you people are thriving and breeding on hate. Hate of a race and nationality of people. You all need to wake up and quit believing everything your crooked, lying, murdering Government tells you.

    1. Oh yeah, I'm a believer in that ... yuk, yuk. says:

      Yeah, and the pope’s not Catholic.

      Bears don’t poo in the woods.

    2. MARK says:

      Sounds to me like you are one of those conservatives who lack teeth and personal hygiene. You should jump off a building.

      BTW — I’d kick every single racist d-bag right out of the country if it was up to me.

      1. Mark's Brother Tom says:

        Tell us more Mark, where would you send them? Back to Europe, Africa, and Asian? What about racist native Americans?!?!

        1. MARK says:

          “Back to Europe, Africa, and Asian?” Is that where you think racists come from? LOL. I wouldn’t “send” them anywhere, I’d drop them on the other side of the border and wish them well. And yes, racist Native Americans as well. What part of “every single racist d-bag in the country” did you not understand?

          1. Mark's Brother Tom says:

            Which border? I hear Canada is nice this time of the year.

            1. MARK says:

              Sure, why not? I’d be fine with that if Canada would take them, or just as happy setting all the racists adrift on rafts in international waters. Once they’re out of the country they wouldn’t be my problem anymore.

      2. Lace says:

        Don’t ry to label me and stick me in a box with the rest of you ignorant haters. I am my own person and do not need to be part of a group or classified as being part of anything other than human. I also don’t have to answer to anyone except God. And by the way I have all of my teeth thank you very much and bathe daily, not that that has ANYTHING to do with this what so ever. You speak as if you were some snotty 3yr old. Grow up! Why is your answer and your thoughts correct? What makes you so informed and all knowing? Because you read the newspaper? Because you watch TV? Who do you think owns the Newspapers and TV networks? Follow the money trail ignorant one, the people that own the media control the world. They decide what you are told and not told and it’s skewed in what ever way they want it to be so that you believe what they want you to.

        1. MARK says:

          Lace, my comment above about the teeth and the building was not directed at you. Somehow the messages were rearranged when the ignorant, hateful post that I was actually responding to was deleted. I apologize for the confusion.

      3. Stan says:

        Better pack a bag then because you sure sound racist and prejudice to me!

  6. Lace says:

    I’m not a liberal, and you my friend are the one lacking common sense. You are programed just the way they want you to be. You are unable to freely think for yourself or see what is front of your face. You believe everything the media and the TV telling you without doing real research on your own to find the truth that sits out in plain sight right in front of your ignorant face. And telling someone they should kill themselves show just what a miserable human being you truly are. Completely full of hate and too self absorbed into thinking you are right that you can’t even see past the tip of your own nose. May God have mercy on you.

    1. Otay Alan. says:

      I think he means that allah guy.

    2. Jack says:

      Not a liberal? what a progressive?

    3. dan says:

      Where do I sign up? This sounds so appealing! lalalalalalalalala

  7. Mark's Brother Tom says:

    Doesn’t your intolerance of bigots actually make you one?

    Me and the kids should be over for dinner around 5:30.

    1. MARK says:

      Actually, yes. I’m a bigot when it comes to bigots. I’m intolerant of people who don’t tolerate others because of their appearance. It’s a paradox, but I can live with it.

  8. Gabriel says:

    LOL!!! You go lace!!!!!!!!!!

  9. JIm S. says:

    I tried to start a rap career calling myself, Big OT. That didn’t last long.

  10. markH says:

    These 40 aren’t actually Americans as we understand the term. Sure, they may have taken an oath to uphold certain ideas and all but they never actually considered themselves to be American and “bought in” to the liberating idea that all people are equal and that only people (not gods) have the right to govern people. If a corn-fed white kid from Nebraska with a 69 Chevelle marches off to fight in Somalia then you have a news story. Peace.

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