Local Somali leaders are worried about reaction to al-Shabaab’s recent video, calling for attacks on western malls such as Mall of America.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, condemned the video from the Somali terror group, and said he fears repercussions from other Americans.
“I think there’s a general fear of backlash,” he said.
With all the publicity the video is generating, Hussein said al-Shabaab is getting what it wanted. He said the terror group has been losing influence in Somalia, and this was a desperate attempt not only for relevance, but also to make Minnesotans and Somali immigrants more suspicious of each other.
“These organizations are a threat to all of us,” Hussein said, “and we all need to work together as a community to overcome their tactics.”
He said Somalis and Muslims in general have been victimized by al-Shabaab. The group has recruited in Minnesota heavily, especially in 2007 and 2008.
Minneapolis mental health professional Hodan Hassan spoke in Washington last week at the summit on Countering Violent Extremism. She said she had nieces at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, which al-Shabaab attacked in 2013.
“One of them suffered major injuries,” she said, “and we’re still struggling with accepting this fact.”
The video released over the weekend is designed to get more recruits from a state where dozens have already left to fight in Somalia.
“They haven’t been recruiting anybody here in the last few years,” said Hussein, “and that’s a good indication that our community has been resilient and not responding to their call.”