Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s well documented that foreign terror groups have been working to bring in new recruits. In fact, more than two-dozen young Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities have already been lured to training camps overseas, mostly in Somalia.
Now, there’s growing concern over a propaganda video just released that’s trying to attract more young men to do the same.
The FBI believes Al-Shabaab is responsible for producing and releasing a 40-minute video that follows three Twin Cities men on the path to martyrdom.
For the past seven years, federal agents have been investigating and prosecuting Minnesota’s so-called “terror pipeline.”
With the country’s largest population of Somali-Americans, the Twin Cities has been fighting the recruitment of young men into Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda training camps overseas. Once trained, they engage in Jihad against the ruling factions in war-torn Somalia.
“It is troubling, because it uses the medium of video to romanticize what it is to go to Somalia and fight,” said the FBI’s Kyle Loven. “And it’s appealing, unfortunately, to some young men here in Minneapolis.”
On Tuesday, Al-Shabaab sent out a Tweet saying it would document its Minnesota Martyrs.
“I was surprised when I saw the ,” said local Somali journalist, Wiil Waal.
But after seeing the propaganda video, Waal isn’t so sure that Al-Shabaab is responsible. He says it appears too highly produced to have come from Somalia. Waal suspects others may have had a hand it the video.
Early Thursday morning, a video titled “Minnesota’s Martyrs: The Path to Paradise” hit the internet.
The 40-minute video follows three young men — Dahir Gure, Muhammad Al Amriki and Mohamud Hassan — they leave the Twin Cities to join the training camps in Somalia. Hassan was an engineering student at the University of Minnesota. Amriki was a graduate of Roosevelt High School.
From their initial reasons to interviews on the battlefield, the men each pause to record their appeals for others back in Minnesota to join Jihad.
In the video, Gure is heard saying, “This is the real Disneyland. You need to come here and join us!”
But the video is both violent and extremely graphic: it follows each man to his death or “shakada.”
Local Somali leader Abdirizak Bihi lost his nephew, Omar Farah, to the Al-Shabaab recruitment and is outspoken critic and community activist. He works to deter other Somali boys and young men from falling prey to group’s violent mission.
“We and Al-Shabaab have one thing in common: we are competing for the hearts and minds of the young people,” Bihi said.
He added that his challenge remains one of getting community support and financial help for a cause that many Minnesotans clearly don’t understand — or see as a priority.
“So long as we continue to do what we are doing and get support and work together, I think these videos will not have an impact,” Bihi said.
Loven said the government can’t block the video on the internet out of First Amendment concerns.
Although the video appeared twice on YouTube, it lasted only briefly. The website blocked it from further viewing citing its violent content.