MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After an expected one million people demonstrated in Paris Sunday in a show of national unity against terror, it’s important to remember that terrorist groups are trying to recruit young, disenfranchised people in Minnesota.
As many as a dozen young people with Minnesota ties have left the United States to join the Islamic State. That’s the same terrorist group to which one of the Paris gunmen had pledged allegiance.
At least 20 Minnesotans have also been recruited by al-Shabab, the al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia.
One Minnesota group that’s been working to combat the recruiting is Ka Joog. The group operates in the Twin Cities, and its director, Mohamed Farah, spoke with Esme Murphy on WCCO Sunday Morning.
He said that what happened in Paris was a tragic situation, but added that more needs to be done to help those who are being targeted by terror recruiters.
“Radicalization doesn’t happen overnight, it’s definitely a process,” he said. “These individuals are at a low point in their lives. They are missing many things…and when you are at a low point in your life, faith becomes very important to you.”
These people, Farah added, don’t know much about Islam, and are vulnerable to the influence of terrorist groups, which use social media and sleekly-produced videos to entice potential recruits.
“Al-Shabab and ISIS are doing anything possible that they can to gain more Americans into their organizations,” Farah said.
To help fight against terror recruiting, Farah says that more resources need to be committed to helping those who are vulnerable.
He says he’d also like to see Ka Joog expand to help all Minnesotans, and not just those in the metro. But to do that, the group would need financial help from the state.
“We are hoping to partner with the state to really do statewide outreach,” Farah said. “The only way to do this is to play the forefront, play ahead of the game.”
To see the full interview with Mohamed Farah, watch the video above.