Doubts Remain Among MN’s Somali Community

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been two days since reports surfaced that al-Shabaab released the names of the Nairobi mall attackers on Twitter. Two of the names listed were from Minnesota, but questions still remain.

“There are rumors in the community that it could be this or that family,” said Abdi Bihi with the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, “but we have no way of confirming it.”

On Monday, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told PBS NewsHour that “two or three” of the attackers were from America, two of them from Minnesota. Al-Shabaab has a history of recruiting young Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities.

“She’s very credible, but we also never doubted al-Shabaab because they have a history of putting what it is out there whether we like it or not,” Bihi said.

Still some members of the local Somali community are skeptical.

“I think she jumped the gun,” said Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, author of “Somalis in Minnesota.”

Yusuf said it’s too soon to know. In such a tight knit community, no families have come forward with any information about the alleged attackers.

“We have to make sure that we have attained the identity of the people we are claiming to be criminals,” he said.

With the constant speculation over al-Shabaab’s presence in Minnesota, the focus now is helping the local Somali community cope. Faith leaders are organizing meetings to bring the community together to discuss what’s going on in Kenya.

“We’re just trying to be a member of the community. And every time you hear this kind of news it’s not easy to take,” Yusuf said.

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