Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Minnesotan Dies in Somalia: Not Your Stereotype African

The Abubakar As-Saddique Mosque in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is in the news again.

And, there's another Minnesotan who (very likely) is dead in Mogadishu, Somalia. He's Burhan Hassan, 17, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. His family hadn't heard from him in about two weeks.

Then, this Friday, Burhan Hassan's family got a very disturbing phone call.
"...'Someone who claimed (to be) a member of al-Shabaab called Burhan's mom Friday (afternoon) and said Burhan died Friday morning,' [Burhan Hassan's uncle Osman] Ahmed said. 'Burhan's mom got shocked and (threw) the phone when she heard the story.'

" 'Al-Shabaab assassinated Burhan and shot (him in) the head,' the individual said, according to Ahmed.

"A law enforcement official told FOX News on Sunday that one of the Somali-American men was recently killed in Somalia by artillery fire, but the official declined to release the man's name...." (FOXNews)
Burhan Hassan isn't the first Somali to return to the old country and then turn up dead. There was enough of Shirwa Ahmed left, after he starred as a suicide bomber in Somalia, for DNA to identify who he was. At least his family got to give him a decent burial. (December 4, 2008)

Mr. Ahmed was the first naturalized American citizen to be a suicide bomber, a detail which started U.S. intelligence people looking at Somalis in America. They seem to have arrived at some conclusions:
"...The potential recruitment of young Somali-American men has been made possible by 'a number of factors that come together when a dynamic, influential and extremist leader gains access to a despondent and disenfranchised group of young men,' Andrew Liepman, deputy director for intelligence at the National Counterterrorism Center, said earlier this year.

"Many refugees, he said, 'lack structure and definition in their lives' and are 'torn between their parents' traditional tribal and clan identities, and the new cultures and traditions offered by American society.'..." (CNN)
At least Mr. Liepman said "Many refugees."

Let's look at the "despondent and disenfranchised" young man whose family got that disturbing phone call. His uncle, Osman Ahmed, had a few words to say about Burhan Hassan. (I don't know if he's related to Shirwa Ahmed. "Ahmed" isn't all that uncommon a name in America (U.S. Census).)
"...'(He) was a brilliant student with straight A's and on top of his class,' Ahmed testified at a Senate hearing in March focusing on recruitment efforts by al-Shabaab. 'He was an ambitious kid with the hope to go to Harvard University to study medicine or law and become a medical doctor or a lawyer.'

Ahmed accuses a local mosque of helping al-Shabaab recruit his nephew and others in the Minneapolis area.

'Like his peers, Burhan Hassan was never interested in Somali politics, or understood Somali clan issues,' Ahmed said during testimony. 'These kids have no perception of Somalia except the one that was formed in their mind by their teachers at (a local mosque). We believe that these children did not travel to Somalia by themselves. There must be others who made them understand that going to Somalia and participating the fighting is the right thing to do.'...
" (FOXNews)
The "(a local mosque)" appears to be the Abubakar As-Saddiqu mosque in Minneapolis. It's been connected with missing Minnesotans before. (March 22, 2009)

I hope that American officials realize that not all Americans who were born in Somalia, or whose parents emigrated to this country, fit the "despondent and disenfranchised" description given by Mr. Liepman. And that not everybody from Africa is so mired in "traditional tribal and clan identities" that they can't manage in an up-to-date, civilized country like America.

Related posts: In the news: Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.