A new terror recruitment video from al-Shabab released on New Year's Day specifically focuses on a group the Al-Qaida Somali affiliates refer to as "Minnesota Martyrs."
“In the face of the global crusade against Islam, these young men could not afford to sit and watch as the American crusaders perpetrated the most hideous atrocities across the globe,” the narrater in the nearly 51-minute video says, according to WCCO.
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The "Minnesota Martyrs" nickname refers to Minnesotans who have left the United States and died fighting overseas for the Somali extremists. Former CIA agent Jack Rice told KARE 11 that al-Shabab is "really focusing on their success right now" with "almost two dozen" Minnesotans leaving to join the group overseas.
Abdi Bihi, a Twin Cities Somali community leader, told FOX 9 that al-Shabab's main objective in the video is create fear.
Another local activist, Omar Jamal, explained to WCCO that local government needs to put a bigger focus on teaching potential al-Shabab and ISIS recruits that they don't need to fear the United States government – a tool al-Shabab clearly uses in the latest video by distorting historical facts and implementing presidential candidate Donald Trump's recent comments about banning Muslims from entering the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, spoke with the Star Tribune earlier this year about curbing terror recruitment efforts in Minnesota, saying it’s worrisome that despite local and national efforts, Somali-Americans are still heading overseas to fight someone they don’t know.
Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the country.