Somali terror group urges attacks in Canada
Published Monday, October 31, 2011 10:19PM EDT
As a banned Somali terror group resumed calls for homegrown attacks in Canada and other western countries this week, security sources confirmed that the threat is being treated seriously amid rising concern over domestic terror.
The audio call-to-arms, made by a young al-Shabab member in Somalia, states that youths shouldn't "just chill all day," but should "do jihad in America, do jihad in Canada."
It's believed that the tape was made by a Somali-American responsible for a fatal attack on an African Union base in Mogadishu. Ten died in that attack.
U.S. officials are attempting to get the remains of the suicide bomber, in order to confirm that he is, in fact, U.S. citizen Abdisalan Hussein Ali.
Al-Shabab, which can be translated as "the youth," has been linked to al Qaeda and was outlawed by Ottawa last year, partially because the group has been adept at attracting youth here in Canada.
Security sources believe that 20 Canadians are in Somalia and fighting with the group, along with 21 young Somali-Americans.
"It's frankly cool to be one of the lads, one of the gang," said former CSIS counter-intelligence director Geoffrey O'Brian. "That has to be of a concern."
In March, Canadian Mohamed Hassan Hersi, 25, was arrested at Pearson International Airport. Officials allege that he was leaving the country to join al-Shabab. Two Canadians have died fighting in Somalia and security agencies believe that perhaps dozens more have fought in Somalia.
The concern is that some of those fighters have already come back to Canada, and could be planning an attack on a domestic target.
O'Brian noted that the fighters could be "radicalized with training and then recruited here (to) do damage here on our own soil."
According to RCMP Chief Supt. Larry Tremblay, the most recent threat is not being ignored.
"We take all those threats very seriously," he said.
According to a prominent advocate, some young Somali-Canadian men are vulnerable to the lure of al-Shabab.
Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, said that the terror group lures youths much like gang culture does.
"The vast majority of our community are law abiding, but one is too many," he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview from Toronto. "This is our country, and we are Canadians and we care about the safety and security of Canadians."
Hussen said that simply blaming economic marginalization for the lure of al-Shabab isn't enough, since educated young men with jobs have also gone to Somalia to fight.
"We have to do what we can to discourage it," he said. "There's nothing attractive about it."
Hussen said that al-Shabab's leadership simply wants to "use (recruits) as gun fodder for their brutal campaign."
U.S. deals with ongoing threat
In the U.S., community leaders are confronting similar challenges, particularly in Minnesota, where many Somalis have settled in recent years.
"I don't understand," community activist Nimco Ahmed said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's really, really painful to actually see one of the kids who has a bright future ahead of them do this. ... It's a loss for our whole society."
In the taped audio released by al-Shabab over the weekend, the young man has an American accent and mixes slang with Muslim terms.
"Today jihad is what is most important thing for the Muslim ummah," he said, referring to the word for the Muslim community. "It is not important that you, you know, you you become a doctor or you become, you know, uh, some sort of engineer."
"We have to believe in Allah and die as Muslims ... Brainstorm," he added. "Don't, don't just sit around and, you know, be, be be a couch potato and you know, you know, just like, you know, just chill all day, you know. It doesn't, it doesn't, it will not benefit you, it will not benefit yourself, or the Muslims."