Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Best & The Brightest?

While discussing immigration policy, a good friend of mine asked me to conceptualize of the United States as the most sought after basketball team in the league that can recruit the best and brightest players to benefit all of the team members. But, for some inexplicable reason, places talent and potential very low in their criteria for recruitment. This came to mind when I read of several recent plots involving American citizens of Somali, Afghan and Pakistani descent. The United States can take its pick from a pool of millions of bright, hard working, talented individuals who dream of immigrating to the United States and this is the best we can do? This is not to say that there aren't Somalis that can and do economically and culturally contribute to the United States and positively integrate themselves into the fabric of American life. But, clearly whichever government bureaucrats chose these individuals to immigrate did not focus on bringing in the best and brightest. Did they even look for red flags that would indicate an inclination towards radical Islam? Presumably he was satisfying some sort of diversity fetish based on the belief that an individual contributes to American life merely through their diverse culture. Ideas have consequences and bad ideas are very costly to the American people.

U.S. indicts 14 on charges of supporting Somali terror group

Most of those charged are U.S. citizens of Somali descent. They are accused of sending money and fighters to Shabab, an Islamist army.

August 5, 2010

WASHINGTON – Fourteen people are accused of providing support to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab in indictments unsealed Thursday that shed light on "a deadly pipeline" of funding and fighters to the group from cities across the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Most of those charged were U.S. citizens of Somali descent. It has long been known that disaffected Somali-Americans were leaving their homes in Minnesota and other states to join al-Shabab, an Islamist army whose several thousand fighters are battling Somalia's weak government. The indictments show that the U.S. government is directing significant investigative resources at the problem.

Al-Shabab, which routinely beheads its enemies, has been branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and other nations, and in turn has declared war on the United Nations and humanitarian organizations in Somalia. The group claimed responsibility for a bombing last month that killed 76 people, including an American aid worker, who were watching a World Cup soccer match in Uganda's capital. It is not known to be responsible for an attack on U.S. soil.

Some of those charged already were in custody, but earlier Thursday, FBI agents arrested two women, Amina Farah Ali, 33, and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, 63, both naturalized U.S. citizens from Somalia and residents of Rochester, Minn. Each is charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Shabab from September 2008 through last month. Ali is also charged with 12 counts of providing material support to al-Shabab, while Hassan is charged with three counts of making false statements.

"As demonstrated by the charges unsealed today, we are seeing an increasing number of individuals – including U.S. citizens – who have become captivated by extremist ideology and have taken steps to carry out terrorist objectives, either at home or abroad," Holder said at a news conference.

A report in May by the Rand Corp. documented 14 domestic terror plots by U.S.-based Muslim extremists in 2009 and 46 since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The list includes the case of Najibullah Zazi, a permanent U.S. resident from Afghanistan who pleaded guilty in February to planning a suicide attack in New York, possibly on the subway; and that of Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major charged with opening fire in November on fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas, killing 13.

Other plots emerged this year, including that of "Jihad Jane," the suburban Philadelphia native accused of supporting terrorism, and Faisal Shahzad, the Connecticut resident suspected in the Times Square bombing attempt.

The indictment accuses Ali and Hassan of raising money to support al-Shabab through door-to-door solicitations and teleconferences in Somali communities in Minneapolis, Rochester, and elsewhere, in some cases "under the false pretense that they would be used to aid the poor and the needy."

Ali made 12 money transfers to al-Shabab in 2008 and 2009 totaling $8,608, the indictment said. On July 14, 2009, the day after the FBI executed a search warrant at her home, Ali allegedly told another conspirator, "I was questioned by the enemy here ... they took all my stuff and are investigating it . . . do not accept calls from anyone."

The U.S. government designated al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization in March 2008, and said it has ties to al-Qaida.

The indictments allege illegal conduct in Minnesota, Alabama and California.

The Minnesota investigation has been unfolding for some time. Roughly 20 men — all but one of Somali descent — left Minnesota from December 2007 through October 2009 to join al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia with an ideology akin to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Two indictments unsealed in Minnesota on Thursday added five new names to a list of people charged in the investigation in that state, bringing the total charged there to 19. Nine have been arrested in the U.S. or overseas, five of whom pleaded guilty, Holder said. Ten are at large, believed to be overseas.

Al-Shabab members began pledging allegiance to al-Qaida last year. One of its most famous members is known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, or "the American," an Alabama native who speaks English with an American accent. He appeared in a jihadist video in May 2009.

In another unrelated case, a 26-year-old Chicago man was charged Wednesday with plotting to go to Somalia to become a suicide bomber for al-Qaida and al-Shabab.

Prosecutors told a judge that the Chicago man, Shaker Masri, attempted to provide support through the use of a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States.

In other terrorism-related developments Thursday, the State Department released its annual country report on terrorism. Among the report's findings were that there were more suicide bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan last year than in Iraq, a sign of how the threat has shifted.,0,3404285.story

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