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  • Guest Blogger: al-Shabaab Arrests Underscore Domestic Radicalization Threat

    On August 5, more than a dozen Somali-Americans, variously located across several states, were arrested on charges related to providing material support to the terrorist organization al-Shabaab.

    The arrests of these individuals represents the latest in a string of incidents in which U.S. citizens, or foreign nationals living within the United States, have been arrested for terror-related crimes ranging from fundraising to collusion and murder. Their collaboration with others seeking to wage jihad against the United States hastens the difficulties faced by domestic agencies tasked with protecting the American homeland.

    Since 9/11, dozens of American-born and naturalized U.S. citizens have been arrested or implicated in activities linked to Islamic fundamentalism. Some of these incidents have received broad coverage, such as the tragic Fort Hood shooting; however, most have remained elusive to the public. Despite the paucity of attention paid to domestic radicalization, this phenomenon represents a significant threat to both national security and American interests abroad.

    The Somali-Americans arrested are accused of conspiring to provide financial and logistical support to al-Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization committed to overthrowing the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG). While the central focus of al-Shabaab has been to effectuate regime change within Somalia, the danger it poses toward American interests should not be ignored.  A brief look into al-Shabaab’s history and recent activities underscore why dismissing as insignificant the Somali-based terror group may be misguided.

    Al-Shabaab emerged as an autonomous organization in 2007, following the overthrow of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), under whose framework much of central and southern Somalia was controlled before being replaced by the TFG. As the ICU splintered, its more militant elements formed alternate factions whose objectives were often homogeneous; namely, continuing the fight against the TFG and its regional sponsors. In maintaining its aggressive ambitions against the TFG, al-Shabaab’s focus was initially to promote Islamic nationalism and to ascend Sharia law into the forefront of Somali culture; however, the scope of their objectives have begun to evolve.

    In recent times, al-Shabaab has taken a turn toward more pan-Islamic endeavors, formally aligning itself with al-Qaeda earlier this year. In a media statement released in January, al-Shabaab leaders proclaimed that the “jihad of the Horn of Africa must be combined with the international jihad led by the al-Qaeda network.”

    With simultaneous suicide bombings in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, al-Shabaab demonstrated the expansionist nature of their terror capabilities. The collaboration with al-Qaeda only enhances the possibility that their respective goals may intersect, producing an extended framework of terror organizations that increasingly places U.S. interests and national security within their crosshairs.

    Now that expansive framework appears to be more than speculative. U.S. officials believe that al-Shabaab has been directly collaborating with al-Qaeda affiliates in both Yemen and Pakistan. This reality presents a disturbingly relevant terror network focusing the endeavors of al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and others in a concentrated effort to attack American interests.

    While the locus of events perpetrated by al-Shabaab have remained largely foreign, many disturbing incidents at home have underscored the dangers posed by Islamist organizations and their influence on domestic radicalization. The aforementioned arrests linked to al-Shabaab, spread widely across the United States, only represent the latest in a string of domestic arrests tied to the Somali terror network.

    In June 2010, two New Jersey men were arrested on charges of attempting to join al-Shabaab and waging war against American forces in the region. Mohamed Alessa, 20, and Carlos “Omar” Almonte, 24, were apprehended as they attempted to board separate flights bound for Egypt. Although not of Somali descent, their arrests were the culmination of a yearlong investigation that uncovered their apparent sympathies with both the aspirations of al-Shabaab and the larger Islamist jihad against America.

    Just over one month later, Virginia-born Zachary Chesser was arrested and accused of attempting to join the al-Shabaab terror network. Ostensibly bound for al-Shabaab training camps, Chesser was apprehended by the FBI as he prepared to board a flight bound for Uganda. According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Chesser had intentions of joining with the terror group and participating in jihad as a “foreign fighter.”

    The increased radicalization of young Muslims within the United States, coupled with the ease in which foreign terrorists can use technological means to both incite and collude with domestic sympathizers, should be recognized as a pressing, and increasingly significant, danger to national security.

    As the interests of myriad terror organizations continue to intersect, and their collective influence on the radicalization of a domestic audience rises, threats to American interests at home will only increase. The recent arrests of over a dozen Somali-Americans linked to the al-Shabaab terror network only portend a glimpse of the difficulties yet to come in protecting the American homeland.

    Scott Erickson has worked in the field of law enforcement for the past decade and holds both his B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice Studies. He is contributor to The Daily Caller.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Guest Blogger: al-Shabaab Arrests Underscore Domestic Radicalization Threat

    1. Dennis Georgia says:

      We all know these people can not be called terroist. "Master Obama" has already stated that fact. These people are just mis-guided people that have lost their way in soviety, and must be treated with kid gloves.

      Yes this is a problem that must be dealt with, and must be in a harsh way. Destroying from with-in is the best way to bring this country down. I know you can not bring people up to your way of thinking,at times this is for the best. We live in a country that allows a different opinion for each, we also live in a country that has laws, these must be enforced to the fullest to keep a civilized society. Those that are determined to destroy must get the full effect of the law, they must realize that the citizens of this country will not live like hostages in our homes. This is war in our own land, we have to let these people know they mean less to us, than we mean to them, which is nothing. We have to get to their level of thinking, then go one step futher, then and only then do we get their attention and began to do away with the problem. A very simple way to see the problem, if I can instill enough fear in you, if I acn intmitate you enough, I can make you do anything. Fear and intimation is their weapon aganist us, it also works the other way.

    2. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      We also need to watch our borders, these terrorist sects have the money to pay the cayotes to bring thrm through our southern borders. It's already been documented that this has happened. What does it take to make those in charge wake up, aniother 9/11. I am also concerned about the muslim schools that are not under US or state supervision, how do we know what they are teaching??

    3. Randall Holland, Ari says:

      Islam, the most dangerous thing on earth.

    4. Pingback: Must Know Headlines 9.2.2010 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    5. Pingback: Social Media, Hurricane Earl Ray, Hugo the Magnificent, and Diplomatic Futility | Zac Northup & Associates

    6. Billie says:

      ALL Muslims follow the man that preached the religion, Mohammad. Mohammad forced people to follow his words or be killed. Sharia law ought to tell us how uncivil Muslim beliefs are. Terrorists ought to tell us how dedicated they are to Mohammad.

      • Lacey says:

        The "Base" is now, and has been located in Southern Somalia, there needed food, weaponry, other supplies, which is used to carry out Al Queda's missions, it comes up through Mombasa, Kenya, than sent on up to the port at Chisamyo, on small ships, where they have fresh water, electricity, and close to a rich state, Kenya!
        Remember that U.S. ship that they pirated, two Somalian's shot, we were taking U.S. Aid food to Kenya, ever wonder where that food ended up, Southern Somalia!
        I believe with the help of Kenya, the Base in Somalia, is being assisted by people's in Nairobi, Kenya!
        After two American citizens became terrorist one the son of Siad Barre the president of Somalia before he was shot in 92, his son was raised in L/A, and was a Marine for a year, now lives in Southern Somalia.
        Blackhawk Down in 93 is when Al Queda got started big time, all the bombing's all the embassies, U.S Cole, all because our president in 93 didn't help the Somalian people, and cost millions of lives, around the globe. I lived in Chisamyo and worked there building dock facilities and water fountains, the year was 1969, they had a coup held us hostage, while locked up, I decided to fill the time thinking about building a railroad across the continent, just as we did in 1869, that's what would save Africa, goods in goods out!

    7. Pingback: » Daily Dose – September 5, 2010

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