Paging Keith Ellison. Click photo for video
Via Minneapolis Star Tribune
From his shabby office in an old Minneapolis theater, Mohamed Farah plunges into a cyber war zone.
With just a few keystrokes, he’s inside the online recruiting world of terrorists. He logs into the Facebook account of a local Somali teen and up pops the iconic black flag for ISIL, the fluttering symbol that beckons the undecided to join the cause. He scrolls down, reading the posts of a boy enamored of terrorists and the promise of martyrdom:
“This life is the sunset. It rises and it sets. Hope we reunite in paradise.”
Farah exhales an audible sigh. “We’ve been trying to stop this thing since 2008, and we’re not even close,” he says.
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has zeroed in on Minnesota, home to the largest Somali population in the country, as a target-rich recruiting ground for fighters such as the boy on Facebook.
Federal investigators, as well as community leaders like Farah, say a sophisticated new wave of extremism is trying to sell disaffected youth on joining militant brigades in Syria and Iraq.[...]
When Wilson first began investigating the recruitment of Minnesota Somalis by the Al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia — Al-Shabab — the main appeal was patriotism, defending the motherland from invading Ethiopia.
Today, the call to western youth to come fight in Syria and Iraq is based on religious duty; they’re told they must come help establish an Islamic caliphate governed by a radical interpretation of Islamic law.
“It does raise it to a more mature and radical level,” Wilson said.
What hasn’t changed is who is vulnerable. What the recruits of 2007-08 and 2014 have in common is a missing father or strong male religious role model, Wilson said.