MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new video, aimed at recruiting jihad fighters, highlights Minnesotans who have left to fight with terrorists.
Al-Shabaab released the 50-minute video Friday which was similar to past propaganda videos, featuring high-quality graphics and video editing to glorify fighting overseas.
It also attempts to use American history to justify the terror group’s actions, arguing the country’s history of racism will lead to more discrimination in the near future.
Less than 15 minutes in, the video highlights local men nicknamed the “Minnesota Martyrs,” who died while fighting overseas.
“In the face of the global crusade against Islam, these young men could not afford to sit and watch as the American crusaders perpetrated the most hideous atrocities across the globe,” the video’s narrator said.
The FBI says more than two dozen young Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities have already been lured to training camps overseas, mostly in Somalia.
Local Somali leaders condemn the videos, saying their sole purpose is to create fear. They say it’s unlike anything they’ve seen before, because it makes such specific references to current events and Minnesota.
Abdi Bihi, a member of the Somali-American task force, says he is saddened by the video which he feels has the potential to fuel division between Somali-Americans and their Minnesotan neighbors. He says inciting fear and division is the terrorists objective.
Bihi’s nephew, Burhan Hassan, was one of the Minnesotans featured in the new video. Hassan left Minnesota on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election to join al-Shabaab. He was 17 years old.
“I brought him here with his family at the age of 5 or 4,” Bihi said. “He wan an honor student, A student, at Roosevelt.”
Bihi calls the newest al-Shabab video featuring Hassan among other young poeple from the Twin Cities a slap in the face.
“We need to address the social inequalities in our community,” Bihi said. “We need to empower our young people.”
Another activist, Omar Jamal, says there needs to be a stronger grassroots and government strategy to have a counter-narrative to the tactics terrorist groups use to recruit.
“ISIL and al-Shabaab put fear in people to be afraid of their own government,” he said. “That is the crucial point where it is missing.”
The video also uses recent excerpts from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to rally support.
Trump said he wanted to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. following the San Bernardino attack in California.
Community leaders say Minnesota has come a long way in acknowledging the state has a problem with terror recruitment, but they hope for more funding for programs that help young Somali-Americans trust the government and feel less marginalized.