There are some serious and shocking questions about whether Minnesota is a recruiting ground for Somali terrorist suicide bombers.
Minneapolis mosque leader denies link to Somali terror recruitment
By BOB VON STERNBERG, Star Tribune
A leader of a Minneapolis mosque today criticized testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing that indirectly linked it to a terrorist group's recruitment of young Somali men from the city.
Farhan Hurre, director of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in south Minneapolis rebuffed what he called "finger-pointing and false allegations" at the hearing held Wednesday by the Senate's homeland security committee.
Mosque leaders have repeatedly pushed back against rumors and news reports that have drawn a connection between it and the disappearance of as many as 20 Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities.
During the hearing, a representative of the local Somali community said his nephew, one of the young men who disappeared, appears to have made contact with a "minority group" at the mosque that exposed his nephew to extremist ideologies.
Osman Ahmed, president of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association, did not directly blame the mosque, but added, "These kids have no perception of Somalia except the one that was formed in their minds by their teachers at the Abubakar Center."
In an email sent early today, Hurre replied: "We were hoping, as all the Somali community in Minnesota, that this hearing would give some answers to the tragic issue of the Somali missing men. We were disappointed with some of the testimonies presented in the hearing in which some finger-pointing and false allegations were reiterated."
Federal counter-terrorism officials at Wednesday's hearing did not specifically mention the mosque, but said Minneapolis has become the focus of an FBI probe into the recruitment of young Somali men by Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaida offshoot.
The investigation was initially prompted by the case of Shirwa Ahmed, a 27-year-old college student from Minneapolis who blew himself up in Somalia in October, just days before Hassan's disappearance. Shirwa Ahmed is believed to be the first U.S. citizen to become a suicide bomber.
"We were hoping, as all the Somali community in Minnesota, that this hearing would give some answers to the tragic issue of the Somali missing men," Hurre wrote.
He noted that mosque officials weren't asked by the Senate committee members to testify Wednesday, adding, "if it were about Abubakar Center, the committee would have called us to Washington to testify."