Rochester Somali leaders discuss al-Shabaab threats against Minn - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports
The Somali population in Minnesota is reacting to the threats being made by their country's extremist groups.
Here in Rochester, one community leader is calling al-Shabaab's threat a "bluff."
While al-Shabaab's threat may have shoppers and security experts on high alert, immigrants from the troubled country say those demands hold no water in the Upper Midwest.
"I think this is more of a mixture of a bluff and of a desperate threat,” said Ahmed Osman, the Employment Program Manager with the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association, or IMAA, in Rochester.
We sat down with six Somali leaders in Rochester, who explained al-Shabaab is losing power every day in Somalia, and their call for terror acts in Minnesota are a last-ditch effort to gain support.
"We know they are weakening every day now, so they are trying to influence other pupils. But they have no place in Minnesota,” said Jaylani Abdalla, also with IMAA.
Ahmed Omer grew up in the U.S., but his father was just in Somalia last week when a bomb went off killing dozens.
"You're always going to have this worry about the safety of your relatives back home,” Omer said.
In Minnesota, where al-Shabaab has recruited young people to fight with them, how does a Somali American parent talk to their child about the risks?
"We tell our kids that the person that's telling you that you'll go to heaven, why doesn't he go? Or why doesn't she go?" said Mohamed Sheik Nur.
"As a community, if we get together and have a united front to where we give the best possible opportunity to all our youngsters, we shouldn't even talk about al-Shabaab. There's no place for al-Shabaab,” added Osman.
Omar Nur says sports, like organized soccer and basketball, keep kids focused on something positive.
"We stand Somali together, all of us, to avoid all of the young people to make them no longer brainwashed,” Nur said.
They all say a well-educated community is key to keeping Minnesota a safe place for young Somali Americans to grow up.
"The old saying, it takes a village to raise a child. That's what we need to go back. It's not just a Somali issue," Osman said.