Is There a Terror Recruiting Problem in Minnesota?

According to the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, “We have a terror recruiting problem.” What does that mean?

It is possible that this new story grossly exaggerates what was going on. I’m so used to news stories where the FBI recruits and sets up the terror plot in order to “intervene” and make public arrests, that I can’t help but be suspicious.

But, at this point, as far as I know this may all be quite genuine. According to ABC 5 Eyewitness News,

Six Minnesotans who appeared in federal court Monday are charged with providing support to a terrorism organization, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The men were arrested in Minnesota and California on Sunday.

Nineteen-year-old Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19-year-old Adnan Farah, 19-year-old Hanad Mustafe Musse and 20-year-old Guled Ali Omar were arrested in Minneapolis. Twenty-one-year-old Adirahman Yasin Daud and 21-year-old Mohamed Abdihamid Farah were arrested in San Diego. All six are Somali-American, the FBI said.

The charges and arrests are tied to the efforts of the six men to try to get to Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

This was solely a matter of wanting to go to Syria and fight for and with the Islamic State. There was no plot to do any attacking in the U.S.

What I found most interesting about the story were the statements by the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota:

We have a terror recruiting problem in Minnesota,” U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger said at a news conference Monday. “This case demonstrates how difficult it is to put an end to recruiting here.”

[…]

“They never stopped plotting another way to get to Syria. These men are focused men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization by any means possible,” Luger said.

Luger said the six men are not part of an organized recruiting group but were friends who worked to recruit and help each other get to Syria to support ISIL.

There is not one master ISIL recruiting organizer in Minnesota, Luger said; that makes it more difficult to stop.

“I will work and help anyone who in good faith wants to break the cycle of terror recruiting in Minnesota,” Luger said. “The problem will not go away unless we address it head on. It is not a Somali problem. It is not an immigrant problem.”

It is not an immigrant problem? I guess Luger means that not all Somali immigrants radicalize themselves. Okay, I don’t think anyone suggests that every single immigrant is equally open to extremism. Some, hopefully, are simply glad to be here in the U.S.

[See also, “Immigrant Populations of Violent Muslims?]

But the fact remains that we import this problem when we allow immigrants into this country. When the state Attorney says that there is no central recruiter, he sounds to me like he is admitting that joining to fight with the Islamic state is a true, grass roots movement. How else can we interpret his words?

Are we taking any reasonable precautions with granting status here? Do immigrants get checked in any way to see if they are radicals who will use violence? We can argue about immigration, but this is really a different issue. If the government is going to presume to protect us, then it needs to deal with reality. It can’t protect us if it is helping violent people move into our neighborhoods.