Group wants state cash to fight terror recruitment

Published 9:09 am Friday, January 9, 2015

ST. PAUL — A Somali youth group wants more than $4 million in state funding for workforce training, arts initiatives and after-school programs to fight international terrorist recruitment across Minnesota.

Mohamed Farah, executive director of the group Ka Joog, told state lawmakers on Thursday that the money — doled out over two years — would occupy at-risk Somali youth and make them less susceptible to recruiters for extremist groups like the Islamic State and al-Shabab.

“It’s an issue that we must come together to combat. It’s an ideology issue, and we must fight ideology with an ideology,” Farah told the Senate E-12 Policy and Budget Division in its first meeting of the 2015 legislative session.

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Authorities say at least 22 young Minnesotans have traveled to Somalia to fight for al-Shabab since 2007.

Minneapolis is home to the nation’s largest Somali population, but the requested funding would also reach the Somali communities in Rochester, Willmar and St. Cloud, Farah told lawmakers.