The details are still sketchy, which is understandable since there hasn't been a formal announcement of the indictments yet.
Judging from the 'victim' angle that Minnesota Public Radio took in an article on a Somali-American woman: When this investigation does hit the traditional news sources, the focus may be on something other than the families whose sons were taken.
"...Ali has heard that FBI agents, working on what she says are false leads, have been asking about her in connection to the case. Agents have been showing Ali's photograph while conducting interviews as part of their probe, according to some of the young people who attend Abubakar.Abia Ali runs a girls' program at the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque in Minneapolis.
"Ali said she's even heard talk in her community that she was the one who sent the boys to fight in their homeland, a country where anarchy and violence are the rule. She denies the accusation.
" 'It's very sad,' she said, pausing to dab away tears with the hem of her skirt. 'It's hurting me so much. I'll be the last person on earth encouraging violence. I'm against violence.'..." (Minnesota Public Radio)
Minnesota Public Radio's focus on the tears of Abia Ali is, I think, an example of traditional editorial decision-making. (July 1, 2009)
A Familiar RefrainParts of the MPR article are very familiar: a member of a minority group - and a woman - is misunderstood by those she is trying to help, and suspected by the FBI. It's a pattern that I've run into for about four decades now.
Recognizing Humanitarian Work: That's NiceI appreciate a Somali-Minnesotan being displayed in a favorable light. Earlier this year, members of Senator Lieberman's staff came to Minnesota and started the Senator's investigation into how the FBI was 'mishandling' things, by asking: " What is radicalizing young Somali men? " (March 22, 2009) From my point of view, that's 'way too close to the "what makes Irishmen drink too much?" questions that half my ancestors had to put up with.
Lieberman's staff did a good job of giving the impression that they thought all young Somali-Minnesotan men were radicalized, or were in the process of being prepped for jihad. Dumb. Really dumb.
Ignoring the Abubakar As-Saddique Connection: Perhaps Not Entirely WiseOn the other hand, I'm not convinced that people whose parents came from Somalia, or who are first-generation Minnesotans, are well-served by playing up the 'misunderstood victim' angle, while ignoring how the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque may be connected to the little matter of Shirwa Ahmed, and others like him. (March 10, 2009)
So far, something like 20 young Somali-Minnesotans have disappeared. Although the number is small, their lives are not (or, in the cases of those whose body parts have been found, were not) trivial.
MPR mentions that Ali is called "Sister Abia" at the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque, and: "...Last year, the Minneapolis police department awarded her for her work with young people...." The public radio station may be unaware that the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque has been the focus of an FBI investigation into the disappearance of Somali-Minnesotans. (March 22, 2009)
There may be no cause-effect link between activities at the mosque and young Minnesotans winding up in so many pieces that it takes DNA analysis to figure out who they were. However, I'm impressed by the conspicuous absence in the MPR article of the mosque's role in the FBI investigation.
Osman Ahmed, the uncle of one young Minnesotan who disappeared and later died in Somalia, believes that a specific local mosque - apparently the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque - is where young men are convinced that jihad is a good idea. (June 7, 2009)
I suppose Osman Ahmed is the sort of person who made "Sister Abia" "very sad."
Polite reticence is one thing: but writing an article about a sympathetic victim, without mentioning why there's talk about her possible connection with dead Minnesotans, may not be serving either "Sister Abia" or Somali-Minnesotans in general.
Unless something very unusual happens, very unpleasant facts are going to be aired in public. If not soon, in the foreseeable future.
I think it's best to acknowledge facts, and deal with them. It looks like some Somali-Minnesotans think so, too.
Terror Recruitment in Minnesota: Another Approach to the ProblemInstead of playing up the 'victim' angle and ignoring dead and missing Minnesotans, some people in the Somali community are organizing a protest in Peavey Park.
If you've never heard of it, don't feel bad. Not many people outside Minneapolis have. It's at 730 East 22nd Street in Minneapolis, or the corner of East Franklin Avenue and Chicago Avenue, depending on whether you're an 'address' or 'intersection' person when it comes to locations.
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Organizers of the protest have it scheduled for Friday, July 3, 2009, from 3 to 6 in the afternoon. They're expecting (or hoping) for thousands of people to show up.
"...Organizers state: The Somali-American Community in Minnesota is taking a stand and we want the world, the mainstream Community and the Somalis in the Diaspora to know our stand and strong opposition to these terrorists. The Somali-American Community in Minnesota will release a press release and voice the community stand on issues related to suicide bombings and terrorism in the protest. The Somali-American Community in Minnesota is requesting you to attend and cover the protest and to join us in the condemnation of the violent extremists and their suicide bombings...." (American Chronicle)This is a blast from the past, too: a protest with signs and slogans.
This, however, I have more respect for. The protest organizers are not ignoring a problem that's troubling their community. They're facing it head-on: and trying to tell their neighbors, Senatorial staffers, and anyone who's paying attention that not all Somali-Minnesotans are 'radicalized' - and that they don't want terror recruiters in their community.
Maybe thousands of sign-waving protesters won't change the world this time. But that sort of protest is still an effective way to demonstrate determination and numbers: and to draw attention to an issue.
- "Neda Agha Soltan's Death was 'Staged' - Officially"
(July 1, 2009)
- "Kenya and Somalia: Getting Along with Crazy Neighbors"
(June 25, 2009)
- "Another Minnesotan Dies in Somalia: Not Your Stereotype African"
(June 7, 2009)
- "Maersk Alabama's captain, Richard Phillips: Free"
(April 12, 2009)
- "American Authorities to Somali Pirates: 'We Want to Talk -"
(April 9, 2009)
- "Somalia, Minnesota, and Common Sense"
(March 22, 2009)
- "Minnesotans Recruited for Terror?"
(March 10, 2009)
- "Somali-Americans Accused of Al Qaeda Ties Indicted on Terror Charges, Sources Say"
FOXNews (July 1, 2009)
- "Somali Americans to rally against terrorism/extremism"
American Chronicle (June 30, 2009)
- "Somali activist tried to stop missing boys from traveling"
Minnesota Public Radio (June 16, 2009)