MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With a burgeoning population of Somali-American families settling in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota, it’s only natural to expect cultural clashes and growing pains. But few expected the attraction of so many Somali boys and men to get drawn into the strife back in their homeland.
Now, the FBI will honor the Minneapolis-based nonprofit youth group Ka Joog with its Director’s Community Leadership Award. The award honors outstanding contributions to local communities in work to combat crime, terrorism, drugs and civil right violations.
“You’ve got to be able to relate yourself to them,” said Mohamed Farah, executive director of Ka Joog.
Since 2007, Ka Joog’s mission has been to prevent the radicalization of young Somali men living in Minnesota.
“It is our mission to assure that kids are well-educated and they’re capable to making their own decisions. Not let others drive them into making such acts,” said Joog.
Over the past five years, the Minneapolis FBI has investigated at least 20 cases of young Minnesotans getting recruited into the terror group Al-Shabab to help the group spread violence in the east African country.
Last week, Mahamud Said Omar was convicted of five counts of giving material support to terrorists, and conspiracy to kill, kidnap and injure people in Somalia. Omar now faces a possible life sentence in prison.
Abdul Mohamed is a staff member in Ka Joog.
“We want to give the message that there’s a positive road towards success,” said Mohamed.
Mohamed says one way is by engaging the youth in the arts. The Somali youth group has sponsored events from anti-terrorism conferences to walks to end famine. They are activities designed to support the group’s goal of paving a path to education.
“We have to give these kids the motivation and relentless spirit to pursue dreams without being afraid of the consequences or any negative paradigm or negative narrative in the news,” said Abdul.
The group is receiving the honor at a special ceremony Wednesday at Augsburg College.