Four Minnesota suspects who pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges will take part in a study to see if they can be "de-radicalized" and integrated back into society.
A federal judge Wednesday ordered a study and examination that will take place before the men are sentenced. It will evaluate the risk of the suspects, and also come up with recommendations for "de-radicalization" of terror suspects.
The four suspects are Abdullahi Yusuf, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, Zacharia Abdurahman and Hanad Musse. All were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State – prosecutors said they were all involved in plans to go to Syria to fight with the militant group.
What the study will include
Here's what it'll consist of, according to the court orders.
– Figuring out what the "driving factors of radicalization" are.
– Completing a "risk assessment" – basically, how engaged they were and how serious they seemed to be about committing violence. Then identifying a level of risk of them "re-offending."
– Finding "target areas" to try in the de-radicalization process, and forecasting how successful the intervention and de-radicalization might be.
– Coming up with a "disengagement and de-radicalization intervention program" that's specific to each suspect, and providing a phase-by-phase process for them to work through. This can include counseling, education, mentoring and other resources.
The study is supposed to start "as soon as practicable," and will be conducted by the U.S. Probation Officer for the District of Minnesota, contracting with Daniel Kohler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De‐radicalization Studies.
Kohler will write the report with the findings and recommendations.
The U.S. Marshal's Service will be in charge of transporting the suspects to and from the study.
Both parties involved have up to 10 days to file an objection.
An ‘ongoing problem’
While the four suspects above have pleaded guilty, another five suspected co-conspirators are scheduled to go to trial in May. (A 10th man charged is believed to be in Syria.)
Terrorist recruiting in Minnesota "is an ongoing problem," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger has said, adding that federal and local law enforcement “remain dedicated to ending terror recruitment in our state.”
The Twin Cities is home to the largest Somali population in the United States, according to U.S. News, and reports note dozens of young men have left the state to join extremist groups in recent years.
In September, a government task force published a report looking at the cases of 58 individuals who left the U.S. to fight with Islamist militant groups overseas. It found 15 of those people came from Minnesota, the highest amount from any state. (Those numbers only come from a sample size, though, as the number of American foreign fighters is thought to be in the hundreds, the report says.)
It’s a concern for the local Somali community as well, with murmurs of young men leaving and little way to verify what happened to them.
To help combat Minnesota’s "terror recruiting problem," three state lawmakers asked the legislature for $2 million to invest in community-based programs that work to keep at-risk kids from turning to extremist groups.