Sweden recently found itself a target for Islam’s jihad against
the West everyone else, but, before that, it had become a locus for jihad recruitment among emigrant Muslims. At Big Peace, Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism looks at terrorist connections in Sweden, particularly among immigrant Somalis:
Somali’s al-Shabaab recently issued a new recruitment video, targeting international jihadists and particularly Somali youth living abroad. In a Swedish-language section, former Swedish resident Abu Zaid called on his audience to “make Hijra,” to immigrate to Somalia. Drawing his finger across his throat, Abu Zaid also threatened cartoonist Lars Vilks, whose drawings of the Prophet Muhammad have led to death threats that now keep Vilks living in seclusion. “Know what awaits you, as it will be nothing but this, slaughter,” Zaid told the Swedish listeners, “If you can, kill this dog Lars Vilks. Then you will receive a great reward from Allah.”
Some of the approximately 25,000 Somalis living in Sweden have responded to al-Shabaab’s call. Police and residents report that roughly 20 youth left to join the terrorist group, particularly from the heart of the Swedish Somali community, Stockholm’s suburb of Rinkeby. The Swedish state security police, SAPO, stated that five of them have been killed and 10 are still at large in Somalia. Al-Shabaab recruitment was also linked by Swedish authorities to a Somali youth center in Rinkeby, which had been receiving funds from the Swedish government. In addition, two Somali immigrants, one from Stockholm and another from Gothenburg, recently received 4 year sentences for planning to go and fight with al-Shabab.
Somalia is in danger of turning into a new Afghanistan: a failed state that is fertile ground for al Qaeda and other Salafist groups. Indeed, one of Somalia’s major jihad groups, al Shabab, has aligned with al Qaeda and is recruiting among Somalis in the United States. The recruitment has been focused on bringing people back to fight in Somalia, but it would be naive to discount the possibility of Somali recruits waging jihad here in America at some point in the future.
Articles like these bring home the dangers of radicalism in immigrant Muslim communities: many of the 9/11 hijackers were students in Germany. The tube bombers in Britain and the jihadists who attacked the Glasgow airport were British Muslims, either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. The suicide bomber in the Stockholm attack was apparently radicalized in the British town of Luton, a known hotbed of extremism. Here in the US, the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was a naturalized citizen from Pakistan.
All this reminds us of the need for effective counterintelligence. While it would be wrong and unjust to make a blanket assumption that all Muslim immigrants are terrorists or likely recruits for jihad, it would be an act of deep denial and politically correct blindness to refuse to see the potential for radicalization of at least some among those immigrants and watching for the signs. That means both developing contacts and informants among the Muslim community and planting undercover operatives at known radical mosques. Yes, that’s distasteful –as it should be– but it’s also necessary for our own defense in an age of terrorism and war.
Otherwise we’re going to be left asking the same stupid questions about what happened and why, when the answers are right before us, if we would only look.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)