Twin Cities: Front lines of homegrown terror fight
Minneapolis has become one of the front lines in the battle against homegrown terrorism, according to a report Friday by the former leaders of the Sept. 11 Commission.
The Somali-American youths who have disappeared from their Twin Cities homes “are part of a disquieting trend that has emerged in recent years” in the form of homegrown terrorism, said the report by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group.
The report found that federal officials failed to realize that Somali-American youths traveling from Minnesota to Mogadishu in 2008 to join extremists were not isolated individuals. Instead, the movement was one among several instances of a broader, more diverse threat that has surfaced across the country.
The report concludes: “Our long-held belief that homegrown terrorism couldn’t happen here has thus created a situation where we are today stumbling blindly through the legal, operational and organizational minefield of countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment occurring in the United States.”
But B. Todd Jones, U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, disputes the notion that officials here “were asleep at the wheel.” The Minneapolis FBI, he said, began investigating the recruitment and radicalization of local Somali youths months before a Minneapolis man blew himself up in Somalia in late 2008, he said.
“They have their finger on the pulse of a lot of stuff,” Jones said, praising the FBI for its efforts at counterterrorism and intelligence gathering.