MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Minnesota is responsible for 15 of the 58 people who have joined or attempted to join Islamist terrorist groups, including ISIS in Syria. California and New York have the second most aspiring fighters. The head count was released Tuesday in a report from the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security on preventing foreign fighter travel and recruitment.
“Today we are witnessing the largest global convergence of jihadists in history, as individuals from more than 100 countries have migrated to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq since 2011.” the report said. “Despite concerted efforts to stem the flow, we have largely failed to stop Americans from traveling overseas to join jihadists.”
The report found something well-documented in the criminal charges against several of Minnesota’s ISIS suspects – that social media played a key role in their recruitment.
"In almost 80 percent of cases, we found examples of U.S. foreign fighter aspirants downloading extremist propaganda, promoting it online, or engaging with other extremists on social media,” the report said.
The committee’s task force on combating terrorist and foreign fighter travel reviewed 58 cases of Americans who joined or attempted to join ISIS in Syria since 2011. Of those 58 “foreign fighter aspirants and recruits,” 15 are identified as Minnesotans:
Abdi Nur, 20
Abdirahmaan Muhumed, 29
Abdirahman Yasin Daud, 21
Abdullahi Yusuf, 18
Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19
Guled Ali Omar, 20
Hamza Naj Ahmed, 19
Hanad Abdullahi Mohallim, 18
Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19
Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21
Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, 20
Yusra Ismail, 20
Yusuf Jama, 21
Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19
The report used the case of Minneapolis recruit Abdi Nur as a “prime example” of social media and peer-to-peer recruiting:
“A number of the cases we reviewed involved Americans who made it to Syria and attempted to remotely recruit others back home. Abdi Nur, only 20-yearsold when he left Minnesota for Syria last year, is a prime example. Once in the conflict zone, he spent months persuading his friends in Minneapolis to join him. His peer-to-peer recruiting nearly worked, as six of his friends attempted to leave the United States for Syria; they were arrested by the FBI this April.100 In a separate case, Ohio suspect Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was urged by his brother Aden to join him overseas. Aden provided detailed instructions and contacts for getting from Turkey into the conflict zone.101 Mohamud agreed to join him and left the United States for Syria, though his brother was later killed in the fighting.”
The report highlights a concern that there is currently no comprehensive global database of foreign fighter names, leaving a “patchwork system” of surveillance that allows extremists to swap identifies and sometimes re-enter the United States.
Roughly 20 percent of foreign fighters have been killed in Syria, according to the committee’s report.
Read the complete report at https://homeland.house.gov