6 Somali orgs in Twin Cities get $300,000 to combat radicalism

The nonprofit Youthprise on Thursday announced $300,000 in state and federal grants directed toward 6 Somali youth programs in Minnesota to combat radicalization and extremism. The money is allocated under the federal Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program to combat radicalism in U.S. cities.

Beginning in 2007, as many as 40 people have left Minnesota, traveling to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, and more recently to Syria, to fight for ISIS. The CVE program focuses on fighting radicalization and terror recruitment in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston and Los Angeles.

“Minnesota is home to many high potential, creative and bright Somali youth,” said Marcus Pope, Youthprise director of partnerships and external relations. “Many of these youth also face formidable challenges, including a sense of alienation, a search for identity as new immigrants, unemployment and poverty that can open them to recruitment by extremist groups. That’s why it’s so important to be investing in positive youth development activities.”

"We are excited that Youthprise has identified the first group of organizations to which it will make grants," said Ben Petok, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office. "This is an important milestone for the hundreds of Somali community leaders and volunteers who have worked on this effort for the past 18 months."

Who's getting the money

Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota

Enhance the employment and educational opportunities of Somali youth by providing comprehensive support services in partnership with Isuroon, Darul Quba mosque in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood; and to expand its partnership with the City of Minneapolis Employment and Training Program, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Saint Paul Public Schools. Funding will be used for activities that improve academic achievement and life skills; encourage parental and community involvement; offer opportunities for recreation and cultural activities; and provide opportunities for youth-adult mentorship, service learning, and employment training. 

Somali American Parent Association

Partner with Ka Joog to implement a comprehensive Somali Youth & Family Resiliency program to engage youth, parents, and families at the Brian Coyle Center. Funding will be used for Ka Joog to provide youth activities focused on youth identity, cultural integration, and educational and employment opportunities; and for SAPA to implement parent programing activities aimed at educating and empowering parents to support their children and provide protective guidance and trusting relationships

Shanta Link

Partner with African Immigrant Community Services to implement the Somali Youth Mental Health project, which will address the stigma of mental illness among Somali refugee youth, increase awareness among youth and parents, and encourage youth to seek help. Funding will be used to launch a public awareness campaign about mental health issues faced by Somali youth, develop a mental health education curriculum, and offer mental health awareness classes for up to 30 youth. 

Ummah Project

Partner with Community Mediation & Restorative Services, Inc. and provide the Somali American Leaders and Mediators program. Funding will be used to train and qualify Somali American youth (ages 18-25) as mediators and restorative justice facilitators using a curriculum shaped by Somali and Islamic teachings and practices. 

Africa Reconciliation and Development Organization

Prevent conflict in African Diasporas through youth development and educational programs. Funding will be used to conduct courses for male students ages 13-18 to participate in reconciliation activities, soccer, and classes focused on traditional Somali arts.

West Bank Athletic Club

To build the infrastructure of the newly-formed West Bank Athletic Club. Funding will be used to conduct daily intensive sports activities with youth annually and hold interactive parental communication sessions.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the funding of these programs is not a well-supported initiative in the larger Muslim community. While CAIR supports the funding of social services and youth programs, Hussein said they should not be funded “through the lens of counter-terrorism” which could open to door to certain forms of surveillance.

Sky News obtains documents that ID thousands of terror recruits

The announcement comes just one day after Sky News obtained tens of thousands of documents containing names, addresses, phone numbers and family contacts of ISIS jihadis. The cache of 22,000 documents, obtained by German intelligence officials, are questionnaires of potential recruits. The documents reportedly include the files of 4 American jihadis, 16 British fighters and 6 Canadians.