13 June 2014

Somalia: Somali-Americans Join Anti-Government Fight in Syria

U.S. federal investigators say as many as 15 Somali-American men recently traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants who have been fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad's government.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in the northern state of Minnesota believe the men traveled from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area over the last few months. The twin cities have a large Somali community.

FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Thursday that authorities are trying to identify other Somali-Americans who may be considering travel to Syria to join militant groups.

In an interview with VOA, Loven said authorities are also investigating how the young men may have become radicalized.

"You have a number of websites on the Internet, a number of jihadi websites. There have been a number of videos specifically targeting Minneapolis Somali men and so, those efforts have been ongoing. Now as far as whether there exists a pipeline here in Minneapolis with respect to an active recruitment network, that's something that we are going to try to determine," said Loven.

The FBI says militants linked to the Somalia-based al-Shabab group launched a similar recruitment effort in the U.S., shortly after the al-Qaida-linked group was founded in 2007.

Officials say at least two-dozen Somali-Americans, mostly from the Minneapolis area, have joined the group in Somalia.

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