Statement of Osman Ahmed On Behalf of the Victim Families Whose Children Have been Recruited And Kidnapped To Somalia Before the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
There are five children among the many that were sent to Somalia. Burhan Hassan(17 years old, senior at Roosevelt High), Mohamud Hassan(18 years old, studying Engineering at the University of Minnesota), Abdisalam Ali(19 years old, studying health at the University of Minnesota) and Jamal Aweys(19 years old, studying engineering at Minneapolis Community and Technical College –MCTC- and later at Normandale College here in Minnesota) as well as Mustafa Ali (18 years old, studying at Harding High School in St. Paul.
All these youth shared common things. They all left Somali in their infancy like my nephew Burhan Hassan. He was eight (8) months old when they arrived at the refugee camp in Kenya. He was less than four (4) years old (February 12, 1996) when they came to the USA. Like his peers, Burhan Hassan never interested in Somali politics, or understood Somali clan issues. Burhan grew up in a single parent household.
His immediate family members including his mother and sibling are educated. He studied Islam at a nearby Abu-Bakar As-Saddique mosque like he rest of the kids since 1998. (Abu-Bakar As- Saddique was opened couple of years ago. Before then, it used be called Shafi’e Mosque in Cedar Riverside Neighborhood when Burhan started.) He attended its youth group.
These kids have no perception of Somalia except the one that was formed in their mind by their teachers at the Abu-Bakar Center. 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.
One thing for sure is that the methods of indoctrination are highly sophisticated. The plan of Al-Shabaab is basically to destroy the world peace and they will turn every leaf to achieve that. Their mission is not isolated into Somalia but has far reaching goals.
We believe the reason Al- Shabab is interested in American and western kids is that these kids do not have any relatives in Somalia. They cannot go back to their countries for they will be told to the authorities by local Al-Shabab recruiters. They are also very valuable in interpreting for Al-Shabab trainers of American and western descent. They could be used for anything they want. They could be trained or forced to become suicide bombers in Somalia and they can do it out of desperation.
For many of them, Burhan for example, have no idea where he could go for help in Somalia. This the first time he has been to Somalia in his life. These are basically the main reasons of why Al-Shabaab is recruiting from Western countries.
The most important factor on how Al- Shabaab attracts the young Somali Americans is the indoctrination of the children. They are programmed to understand that it is their duty to confront the infidels. There are youth programs that in some instances have some hidden agendas. These agendas include that whatever issues that might come across in life is twisted as being the work of the infidels.
They have been told to understand that the Ethiopian troops in Somalia
are casted as an act of aggression against the Islamic religion. AlShabab is not only interested in recruiting Somali American youth but others in other Western countries, such as UK, Germany, Canada and Australia. The main reason for Al- Shabaab to recruit from these countries is that these youth have different view than a typical Somali in Somalia. They do not know much about Somali clan and have no political affiliation.
Ahmed Abdi Godane (aka Sheikh Abu Zubeyr) leads the Al-Shabaab movement, deemed the Emir of the jihadist organization, and is assisted by aten-member council (Shura). Al-Shabaab apparently is divided into independently functioning cells covering distinct geographic areas, which have distinct political and military commanders.
The Bay and Bakool command is led by Mukhtar Robow(former spokesperson not directly affiliated to Shabaab); the Mogadishu Command is apparently led by Sheikh Ali Fidowand three other commanders. Some of Al-Shabaab’s top commanders are originally from relatively stable regions of the country, including Abu Zubeyr and Ibrahim Haji Jaama ‘al-Afghani’, who are both from Somaliland, and notorious commander and Swedish national Fuad Mohamed Shangole.
The Shura council and operational autonomy of different cells allows each commander to pursue his own military strategy and administer the areas conquered independently.
Warning: I strongly suggest that the FBI create a special task force to combat the Al-Shabab recruitment in MN,OH, Washington Seattle and Boston, MA
Al-shabab recruiters have the agility and ability to change form. They usually are well represented not only in certain mosques but wherever Somali children and young adults are concentrated. Such as community centers, charter schools operated by Somalis. They could sometimes pose as Somali community leaders and advice politicians and other agencies that are outreaching to the Somali community.