Since 1991, Somalia has been an ungoverned, lawless state. In recent weeks, things have gotten worse as the al-Qaeda-allied group al-Shabaab (”The Youth”) tightens its grip on the country. Earlier this week the cabinet of “president” Sheikh Sherif Ahmed endorsed a plan to institute Sharia law in areas it controls. In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples testified that analysts expect that al-Shabaab will officially merge with al-Qaeda in the very near future.
Events in Somalia are not so distant. Since this past summer, as many as 40 Somali-American men have left the U.S. to join up with al-Shabaab and train in their terrorist camps in Somalia. And one of those men, Shirwa Ahmed, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, launched a suicide attack in northern Somalia on October 28 that killed at least 30 civilians — the first recorded case of an American suicide bomber.
And earlier this week it was reported that a federal grand jury has been impaneled to investigate the escalating issue of Somali-American jihadists and Somali terrorist groups operating in the Minneapolis area, which adds to the list of ongoing investigations in Columbus, OH; Washington, DC; San Diego, CA; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Seattle, WA; and Portland, ME. The problem has concerned investigators to the point that high schools in some of these areas have been briefed by law enforcement to watch out for signs of radicalization among their Somali male students.
Patrick Poole is a regular contributor to Pajamas Media, and an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military.