Page 2 of 2 Previous
“These [terrorist] organizations are ever changing their names and changing alliances. They operate under the umbrella of the opposition,” Loven said, “but these factions don’t work in unison with each other.”
The local FBI office is continuing to talk to Somali community leaders and activists, asking them to notify the agency if they know of anyone who is considering going to Syria.
“One of the primary focuses is to prevent young people from traveling to Syria to fight,” Loven said. “This is the priority.”
FBI agents met with community leaders on Tuesday at the Brian Coyle Community Center. One of the FBI agents present was Jane Rhodes-Wolfe, acting special agent in charge of the Minneapolis office. She has been involved in liaison efforts with the Somali community, Loven said.
The FBI is trying to prevent a repeat of events in 2007, when a group of young Somali-American men from Minneapolis went to Somalia to fight Ethiopian troops there.
Some of them joined Al-Shabab, which was the principal insurgent group opposing Ethiopian troops. The State Department concluded that Al-Shabab had ties to Al-Qaida and designated it a terrorist group.
Some Somali-Americans from Minnesota were prosecuted and convicted of joining the group, raising funds or paying for people fly to Somalia to fight. The bulk of the federal trials concluded in Minneapolis last year, some ending in long prison sentences for the defendants.
Loven said the FBI is trying to determine what recruitment efforts are drawing local young people to go to Syria. He said one method, which is difficult for law enforcement to investigate, is the use of videos produced by jihadist websites overseas.
Nur’s mother said Wednesday that she had no idea that her son’s ideas had changed so dramatically and that he was planning to go to Syria.
“Every mother has to keep looking after their sons to keep this from happening,” she said. “I love him. I want to see him grow up.”
Staff writer Steve Brandt contributed to this report.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224