Apparent American Militants in Somalia Appear in Video
Posted: April 7, 2009
A video featuring two men identifying themselves as Americans fighting in southern Somalia has surfaced, according to reports. A spokesperson for the FBI office in Minneapolis, which is investigating a group of Americans who have left their homes to join a terrorist group in Somalia, reportedly said the video was brought to his office's attention on April 5, 2009.
The men in the video, who identified themselves as Abu Muslim and Abu Yaxye, claimed to be "Somali youth" from the United States who joined Al Shabaab (Arabic for "the Youth"). Al Shabaab is a U.S. designated terrorist group that seeks to overthrow the Somali government.
"We came from the U.S. with a good life and a good education, but we came to fight alongside our brothers of Al Shabaab…to be killed for the sake of God," Abu Muslim reportedly says in the video, which is described by reports as a "press conference."
Abu Muslim and Abu Yaxye reportedly said they are talking to the media for the first time to explain why they joined Al Shabaab and to encourage others to fight with them. "We are here to invite others to come and join us," Abu Yaxye said.
While the men did not disclose how many U.S. citizens have joined Al Shabaab, they insisted that "many" Somali-Americans are "all over Somalia to join the jihad."
"Some of us are still in training, others are on the frontline of the jihad," Abu Muslim said. "Sadly, a few of us are dead, one of whom carried out a suicide bombing."
Somali officials estimate that Al Shabaab has recruited up to 450 foreign fighters from North America, Europe and the Middle East since 2006. In the last 18 months, approximately 20 Somali-American men from the Minneapolis area have traveled to Somalia to join Al Shabaab, according to U.S. authorities.
Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen who left Minnesota for Somalia in August 2008, was one of five terrorists who carried out a suicide attack last October on the United Nations compound, the Ethiopian Consulate and the presidential palace in Hargesis, killing 24 people. Ahmed is reportedly the first known American suicide bomber. Abu Muslim and Abu Yaxye's press conference marks the first time any of the alleged Americans in Somalia has spoken publicly.
Abu Muslim and Abu Yaxye's press conference comes only days after a video featuring an English-speaking militant named "the American" surfaced online. In that video, Alabama native Omar Hammami, who is identified in the video as Abu Mansour Al Amriki (Arabic for "Abu Mansour the American"), urges the foreign youth to "come and live the life of a mujahid." "If you can encourage more of your children and more of your neighbors and anyone around you to send people… to this jihad, it would be a great asset for us," Hammami says in the video.
The FBI has launched investigations into the disappearances of the young Somali men from Minneapolis, as well as others from Boston, Seattle, San Diego and Columbus, Ohio. The FBI has expressed concern that the men may plan attacks within the U.S. after reentering the country with their American passports.