Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Terrorism Charges against 14 Somalis in US Reflect 'Disturbing Trend'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Terrorism Charges against 14 Somalis in US Reflect 'Disturbing Trend'

Article excerpt

The Justice Department indicted 14 Somalis in Alabama, California, and Minnesota Thursday on terrorism charges for alleged involvement with Al Shabab, a Somali militant group linked to Al Qaeda.

The Justice Department charged 14 people Thursday with funneling recruits and otherwise supporting an Al Qaeda ally in Somalia.

The indictments, involving mostly US citizens in Alabama, California, and Minnesota, were handed down just as the Obama administration was issuing an annual terrorism report citing home- grown Islamic militants as a growing terrorism threat.

The indictments involve what the government described as a "deadly pipeline" of money and militants to the organization Al Shabab, a Somali insurgent group whose leaders have pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference that the indictments suggest "a very disturbing trend" of support for radical ideologies among some small subgroups of the youth population. He said the country "must prevent this kind of captivation from taking hold."

The indictments focused on the Somali-American community, but Mr. Holder was explicit in praising the community's leadership for assistance to federal authorities in their investigation of activities cited in the indictments.

The indictments provided the latest evidence of radicalization within the Somali-American community, a phenomenon that has been on the radar of federal law-enforcement agencies for the past few years. Some experts cite difficulties in assimilating for some members of the community's youth population as one reason for the "captivation" with extremism.

That same argument is cited in the State Department's annual terrorism report as a reason Islamist radicalism is likely to continue rising in Western centers of large immigrant populations, particularly in Western Europe.

The State Department also highlights the rise in the US of what are sometimes called "home-grown jihadis" - generally young US residents and citizens who become radicalized in their support for extremist Islamist ideologies - in its congressionally mandated annual assessment of trends in international terrorism. …

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