WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., commended the FBI Monday for bringing terrorism charges against eight people in the disappearance of young Somali Americans from the Minneapolis area who traveled abroad to fight for an al-Qaeda related terrorist organization in Somalia.
The new charges bring to 14 the number of people indicted or charged in the case.
“This law enforcement action is a welcome development in this unsettling case of young Somali American men being radicalized, recruited, and sent to Somalia for terrorist purposes,” Lieberman said. “In the wake of the Fort Hood attack, I am gratified that the FBI is closely tracking the threat of homegrown terrorism and I look forward to learning how these young Americans were recruited so that we can protect others from the pernicious spread of violent Islamist extremism.”
Collins said: “The revelation last year that a Somali-American became radicalized, traveled to Somalia, and carried out a suicide bombing was a wake-up call that violent Islamist radicalization is happening in our country. The indictments today further underscore our Committee’s findings over the course of a four-year investigation into home-grown terrorism. We must be constantly vigilant for the signs of violent radicalization because the consequences can be devastating, whether overseas or in this country.”
The Committee has investigated the increasing risk of Islamist extremism and homegrown terror since 2006, holding 10 hearings, and releasing a report on the role of the internet in recruitment. A hearing March 11, 2009, focused specifically on the recruitment of over a dozen young men of Somali descent who left Minneapolis to train and fight for al-Shabaab, a designated terrorist organization.
The FBI said a total of 20 young men from Minnesota and other states travelled to Somalia. But none of them had the means to pay for their airfare. Among the charges handed down against the eight defendants Monday was providing that financial support.
The most notorious of the young men is Shirwa Ahmed, 27, a naturalized Somali-American who went to Somalia in 2007 and became a suicide bomber, joining with a terrorist team that in 2008 exploded five car bombs in two Somali cities, killing at least 30 people, including U.N. aid workers.