The Islamic State's Cyber Army used an online cellphone app to post a "kill list" of names, addresses, phone numbers and other personal information on 36 police officers in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.
The FBI said this week it is investigating the case but analysts say it's obvious why ISIS chose to target the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
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The area is home to America's largest Somali refugee community and has been a hotbed of Islamic terrorist recruitment dating back to at least 2007. Since then more than 34 young Somalis have left Minnesota to join the ranks of foreign terror groups, including the Islamic State in Syria and al-Shabab in Somalia. Others have been convicted of sending material support to overseas terrorist organizations.
It's not as though Congress hasn't been warned about the festering radicalism of Somali youth.
Back in March 2009 the Senate Homeland Security Committee heard testimony that Somali youth were being radicalized in Minnesota.
The 2009 hearing highlighted the case of Shirwa Ahmed, a 27-year-old Somali who came to Minnesota as a refugee and was radicalized in his adopted country by al-Shabab – which convinced him to travel to Somalia and blow himself up along with 29 others.
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"The idea that Ahmed was radicalized in the United States raised red flags throughout the U.S. intelligence community," CNN reported at the time. The incident – the first suicide bombing by a naturalized U.S. citizen – was the "most significant case of homegrown American terrorism recruiting based on violent Islamist ideology," then Sen. Joseph Lieberman said at the Senate hearing.
The problem has only gotten worse since 2009. Andrew Luger, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, admitted last spring, after six more Somalis were arrested for trying to board planes bound for Turkey with plans to join ISIS, that his state has "a terror-recruitment problem."
Yet, the Obama administration has kept the pipeline of new Somali "refugees" well-oiled. They continue to come at a rate of 700 per month, most of them coming from United Nations' camps in Kenya – camps that the Kenyan president has threatened to shut down because of their suspected ties to terrorist attacks inside his country.
The problem of terror recruitment in Minnesota has become so palpable that the federal government is now issuing grants to nonprofits for the purpose of teaching young Somalis not to succumb to the temptation of joining "extremists" like ISIS and al-Shabab.
According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, six organizations working with Somali youth in Minnesota have been awarded $300,000 in grants as part of a federal pilot program designed to combat terrorism. Boston and Los Angeles are also participating.
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Marcus Pope, director of partnerships and external relations for Youthprise, the nonprofit administering the money, said Minnesota is home to many creative and bright Somali youth, but many of them 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."
Of course many immigrants throughout American history could offer the same excuse, that they came to their new country with nothing but the shirts on their backs – dirt poor – but they did not have a history of participating in terrorism nor did they offer aid to those who wished to harm America.
This begs the question, if the Somalis are such a problem that they require special taxpayer-funded programs to teach them how to avoid the temptation of terrorism, why does the Obama administration continue to place them into dozens of U.S. cities and towns?
The U.S. has taken in more than 115,000 Somali refugees since 1992. They have large families and some estimates put the current size of the Somali-American community at more than 200,000.
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And the flow continues at break-neck speed.
In just the first 10 weeks of 2016, from Jan. 1 through March 17, the U.S. State Department has imported 1,984 Somali refugees from U.N. camps, according to the department's refugee database.
For the past 12 months, the government has imported 8,386 Somalis. That's an average of 700 Somalis per month going into small, medium and large cities across the United States. Towns as small as St. Cloud and Willmar, Minnesota; Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota; Irving and Amarillo, Texas; Greeley, Colorado; High Point and Durham, North Carolina; Lexington and Omaha, Nebraska; Anchorage, Alaska; Noel, Missouri; Boise, Idaho; Wichita, Kansas; Bowling Green and Owensboro, Kentucky; Portland and Lewiston, Maine, have all received at least a dozen Somali refugees over the past year. Some of these small towns, like St. Cloud, have received hundreds of Somalis, sparking a citizen backlash that has been previously reported by WND.
The Somalis have been resettle in Minnesota by Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities. The government pays these agencies nearly $2,000 for every refugee they resettle and also awards grants to provide specialized services to the refugees.
Top 20 cities receiving Somali refugees
The cities receiving the most Somali refugees over the past 12 months are as follows:
- Minneapolis-St. Paul – 646
- Columbus, Ohio – 412
- Buffalo, N.Y. – 361
- Syracuse, N.Y. – 307
- Dallas-Ft. Worth – 302
- Salt Lake City, Utah – 276
- San Diego – 275
- St. Cloud – 243
- Louisville, Ky. – 236
- Phoenix, Ariz. – 218
- Seattle, Wash. – 212
- Erie, Pa. – 207
- Atlanta – 159
- Glendale, Ariz. – 155
- Tuscon – 154
- Boston – 153
- Houston – 150
- Nashville – 148
- Kansas City, Mo. – 145
- Portland, Ore. – 132
Will Minnesota learn from mistakes?
While the issue of Syrian refugees has been debated vociferously in Congress and the media, nothing has been said about Somali refugees and the impact they have had on the above cities.
Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, an outspoken critic of U.S. immigration policy during her tenure in the House of Representatives, said she doesn't see any signs that her home state is ready to step back and make a realistic evaluation of the impact of the Somali refugee program, either financially or culturally.
"Sadly, Minnesota remains the epicenter of jihad in the United States," Bachmann told WND. "The way a sane country would deal with this is to stop bringing people into the United States who oppose our government and people of any religious faith different from their own."
She said the United States needs to pause all immigration, including the 700-per-month Somali influx through the refugee resettlement program.
"We need to wake up and admit there are people from around the world whose beliefs are not compatible with Western civilization and the freedoms associated with it," she said. "Multiculturalism is a failed fantasy promoted by the political left. We need to reject it before we lose our society."
Philip Haney, a Customs and Border Patrol agent who spent 13 years analyzing threats for the Department of Homeland Security before retiring last year, said he interviewed many Somali nationals during his tenure.
"I conducted interviews of U.S. citizens (and greencard holders) returning from Somalia. We knew as early as 2009-2010 that individuals returning from this region had a higher than average possible nexus to terrorism," Haney told WND.
Haney noticed another bizarre trend in his interviews of the Somalis.
"I interviewed numerous people from Somalia and virtually every single time their birthday would be Jan. 1," he recalled. "For anyone between ages 15 to 45 their birthdays were virtually always the first of January, and they would often tell you they didn't know when they were born."
Haney said one of the keys to understanding Obama's refugee admittance policy lies in a directive filed in the Federal Register on Feb. 5, 2014.
That's when he, with the stroke of a pen, altered the so-called "3B provision" of the Immigration and Nationality Act or INA.
If you look in the Federal Register for that day, you will find a "Notice of Determination" in which the secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Attorney General may under certain circumstances wave the "inadmissibility" or 3B provision of the INA for immigrants who provided "insignificant material support" to terrorist organizations.
Haney said his biggest concern upon retiring from DHS was the watering down of the so-called "terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds" or TRIG found in Section 3B of the code.
"The executive branch has made provisions that, now, even if we already know they are affiliated with a terrorist organization somehow it's still considered OK because it's part of their 'well-established cultural obligations,'" Haney said.
Bowing to pressure from CAIR
He said the Obama administration made the change to federal law under pressure from Muslim-American groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR. This is the same organization that was itself exposed as having terrorist connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas during 2007-08.
"All this posturing this administration is doing about vetting these refugees is a big charade," Haney said. "The president changed the law with a directive in the Federal Register, completely bypassing Congress."
Haney said this could include, for instance, money regularly given to a radical mosque engaged in terror plots against U.S. interests, because this would be considered part of a Muslim's culture to give alms or "Zakat."
By rewriting the law Obama has left immigration officials with a "gigantic hole in the process," he said. "We could easily be giving visas to those who have affiliations with known terrorist organizations.
"We've known about it for seven or eight years and we continue to bring them in, and we can't vet them," he said of the Somalis. "We don't know who these people are. And I can tell you with certainty, they know who they are, because when you're born into that culture your family is the ultimate basis of your life and everyone knows everyone three or four generations back. But when they come here, they say they don't know."
The problem is not just Somalia
Obama's own FBI Director James Comey has testified before Congress that it is impossible to do thorough background checks on refugees coming from war-torn countries like Syria.
"Somalia surely takes its place alongside Syria as a failed state with no effective central government or control of its overall territory," said Clare Lopez, vice president of research and analysis for the Center for Security Policy in Washington.
Lopez believes the U.S. should screen all immigrants for their ideology rather than simply their group affiliations.
Until that becomes official U.S. policy, "We will not be able to keep out those whose worldview supports Islamic jihad and Shariah," she added.
The other option, Lopez said, is to continue to spend taxpayer money to try to convince the ever-growing number of Somali-Americans that engaging in terrorism is a bad idea.
"We know those who harbor such views are dedicated to oppose the Western, Judeo-Christian principles on which the U.S. Constitution and our legal system are based," Lopez said.
She said Somalis have a poor record of assimilation in the United States. There have been numerous terrorism-related arrests of Somalis in Minnesota and in the Columbus, Ohio, area. Another, 29-year-old Liban Haji Mohamed, was arrested last year in northern Virginia, where he worked as a cab driver while doubling as an al-Shabab recruiter and ended up on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list, WND reported.
Mohamed was captured a few months later in Somalia but others who have left remain unaccounted for. Professional analysts like Haney and Lopez worry they could return at any time, with their American passports, and launch attacks.
"Whether they succumb to recruitment pitches coming from the imam at their local mosque or terror groups online or merely support jihad through paying the zakat or educating their children in the ideology of jihad and Shariah, such individuals must be selectively screened out of the U.S. immigration and refugee resettlement process if we are to have any hope of preserving the foundational principles of this Republic – never mind basic safety and security for American citizens," Lopez said.
She said cities, counties and states should be involved in every step of the refugee resettlement process. A bill introduced in Congress last week would require exactly that, along with giving Congress, not the president, the power to set the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.
That bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., was marked up from the Judiciary Committee Wednesday but has zero chance of being signed by Obama.
Trump only candidate with a plan?
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration or ALIPAC, said the only candidate with a plan to realistically deal with the problem is Donald Trump, who has called for a moratorium on all Muslim immigration. The refugee programs for Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan would continue in one form or another under every other candidate, he said.
"Muslim terrorists can only hurt us if we let them into America," Gheen said. "Unfortunately, traitors inside our own government are letting terrorists in and large volumes of Muslim immigrants that are highly susceptible to terrorist recruitment."
This is happening, he said, because foreign governments, namely Saudi Arabia, want it to happen and employ legions of lobbyists in Washington to make it happen.
"They visit lawmakers every day lobbying for open borders, increased immigration levels from Muslim nations, and immigration reform amnesty which we are trying to stop at ALIPAC," Gheen said. "But they have so much funding and armies of lobbyists and we have just volunteers and a shoestring budget."
In exit polling during the GOP primaries last Tuesday 67 percent of voters said they agreed that Muslim immigration should be halted at least temporarily.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees makes the initial selection of refugees bound for the United States, and this is part of the problem, Haney believes. It also explains why so few persecuted Christians are sent to the United States as refugees.
"The U.N. and these non-governmental organizations don't have our best interests at heart. They're just putting them somewhere in the middle of the night, and then patting themselves on the back as if they're doing some great thing, when all they're doing is creating unending perils because their worldview is not based on constitutional principles of American government," Haney said. "If this program was on the up and up you wouldn't have this parachuting in during the middle of the night, where one day they're not there and the next they are, and all the while doing it without the consent of the cities."
When more than a dozen state governors sent letters to the Obama administration after the jihadist attacks on Paris saying they did not want to receive any Syrian refugees until the vetting process could be improved, Obama didn't blink. He just kept sending these governors more refugees, saying the states had no authority over the program.
"We just drop them in, and then turn around and criticize the cities and states if they complain," Haney said. "They are Islamophobes. But the fact is all they are doing is expressing normal concerns. Who are these people? And unfortunately once they are there they start doing the very things that people were fearing, shoplifting, harassing the girls, splitting the community right down the middle, and they of course blame them for that too. You're xenophobes."
The bottom line, says Haney, is the FBI, DHS and state and local law enforcement have been handcuffed when it comes to screening out Islamic threats.
"That is the source of the problem. We can't do our job when the administration is undermining the INA code. What else do we have? There is no other provision," he said. "You take away the 3B provision and you cannot stop them. And we're not stopping them.
"We have taken down the toll booth," he adds. "There's no toll booth anymore. The booths are there but there's nobody at the gate, nobody taking money in the little house. They're all gone.
"And they did this without involving Congress at all. What you're doing is you're unilaterally extending rights to foreign nationals unilaterally just because you believe you have the authority to do it. And so they're doing it."