Minneapolis Muslims protest ‘sharia’ vigilante in Cedar-Riverside area

A man trying to impose what he calls “the civil part of the sharia law” in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis has sparked anger among local residents and Muslim leaders.

Minneapolis police received reports in February from concerned residents who saw Rashid in a dark green uniform that said “Muslim Defense Force” and “Religious Police” and had two flags associated with ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“We’ve had conversations with community members that live over there,” said Officer Corey Schmidt, a police spokesman. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to deal with it, but it’s something we’ve been monitoring.”

Somali Refugee Makes History In U.S. Election

She’s a former refugee, a Muslim, a mom of three, and now the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States.

“This really was a victory for that 8-year-old in that refugee camp,” Ilhan Omar, 34, said. “This was a victory for the young woman being forced into child marriage. This was a victory for every person that’s been told they have limits on their dreams.”

“I think I bring the voice of young people,” Omar said. “I think I bring the voice of women in the East African community. I bring the voice of Muslims. I bring the voice of young mothers looking for opportunities.”

She won House District 60B in southeast Minneapolis with 80 percent of the vote.

Boston Muslims Struggle to Wrest Image of Islam From Terrorists

To be Muslim in America today means to be held responsible, or to fear you may be, for the brutal acts of others whose notion of what Allah demands is utterly antithetical to your own. For the diverse crowd that prays at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, where professors at nearby universities mix with freshly arrived immigrants from Somalia and Egypt, it means hearing the word “Islamic” first thing each morning in news reports on an infamous extremist group. It means a kind of implied collective responsibility, however illogical, for beheadings in Syria, executions in Iraq and bombs in Boston.
Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times
Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times
The Obama administration, worried about recruiting of young Americans by Islamic State extremists, chose Boston last fall as one of three cities for aCountering Violent Extremism pilot program. The idea is to brainstorm ways to combat recruitment by all militants, including antigovernment groups and white supremacists. But the plan has divided Muslims in Boston and the other two cities, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

Somali candidate eyes milestone in US race

August 3, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — In a neighborhood dubbed “Little Mogadishu,” Mohamud Noor can’t walk more than a block without being stopped by someone who wants to shake his hand.

Juggling two cell phones and a stack of campaign fliers, he chats them up on his bid for a seat in Minnesota’s House of Representatives. They already know. He’s one of theirs.

“You’re going to succeed, keep on going,” Noor said, translating the encouraging words of an elderly Somali woman.

Noor, 36, has been door-knocking, phone-banking and fundraising in a race that could make him the first Somali-born state lawmaker in the U.S. With the backing of many in the city’s growing Somali-American population, Noor is pressing the longtime incumbent Democrat in a hotly contested primary.

Minnesota has become home to an estimated 30,000 Somalis who began fleeing civil war in their homeland a generation ago, drawn here by welcoming churches and social services. Many have settled in Minneapolis in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where ethnic restaurants, markets and shops huddle in the shadow of massive high-rise apartment buildings.

So established is the community that members are rising in politics, with Somali-Americans capturing a Minneapolis school board seat in 2010 and a Minneapolis City Council seat last year. A win by Noor in November could add another milestone. Somali-American leaders said they know of no other state legislators.

Noor narrowly lost a race for state Senate in 2011. But he has raised about twice as much money for this campaign and hopes that running in the smaller House district, where about a fourth of the residents are foreign-born, could make a difference.

Noor’s asset is Somalia. He fled the violence in his home country before his teen years. He and his family escaped to Kenya’s refugee camps, “living in tents, eating what we got,” he said. In 1999, the nine Noors moved together to Minnesota.

Today, he works at a local center that helps immigrants learn English and find work. He and his wife have four children.

Civil Rights Groups Protest Closures Of Muslims’ Bank Accounts

March 5, 2014

 

A Minneapolis-based bank has been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.

In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice. He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”

“A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013. CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.

As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names. “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”
Mint Press: http://www.mintpressnews.com/cair-mn-welcomes-minneapolis-civil-rights-directors-probe-muslim-tcf-bank-account-closures/185615/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/12399-cair-mn-protests-closures-of-muslims-bank-accounts.html

Somali American caught up in a shadowy Pentagon counterpropaganda campaign

In MINNEAPOLIS — Two days after he became a U.S. citizen, Abdiwali Warsame embraced the First Amendment by creating a raucous Web site about his native Somalia. Packed with news and controversial opinions, it rapidly became a magnet for Somalis dispersed around the world, including tens of thousands in Minnesota.

The popularity of the site, Somalimidnimo.com, or United Somalia, also attracted the attention of the Defense Department. A military contractor, working for U.S. Special Operations forces to “counter nefarious influences” in Africa, began monitoring the Web site and compiled a confidential research dossier about its founder and its content.

In a May 2012 report, the contractor, the Northern Virginia-based Navanti Group, branded the Web site “extremist” and asserted that its “chief goal is to disseminate propaganda supportive” of al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that the U.S. government considers a terrorist group. The contractor then delivered a copy of its dossier — including Warsame’s Minnesota home address and phone number — to the FBI. A few days later, federal agents knocked on the webmaster’s door.

Although he did not know it, Warsame had been caught up in a shadowy Defense Department counterpropaganda operation, according to public records and interviews.

 

Judge calls Minn. terror defendant who recently worked at a school a ‘danger’ to the community

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man who has been accused of using his knowledge of the Quran to persuade young men to leave the state in 2007 and fight with the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia has been working in a position of authority at an Islamic school, authorities said Wednesday.

Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis called Omer Abdi Mohamed a “danger to the community,” and ordered that he remain in custody until he is sentenced on one terror-related count in the government’s ongoing investigation into the recruiting of more than 20 young men who authorities say left Minnesota to join the al-Qaida-linked group.

Mohamed, 27, pleaded guilty last year. He was free, pending sentencing, but was arrested last week after authorities said he violated conditions of his release by not disclosing the nature of his employment.

Prosecutors said Mohamed had been working at Essential Learning of Minnesota Institute, a nonprofit program that offers after-school homework help, recreation activities and religious classes to children. Mohamed told his probation officer he was a volunteer teacher’s assistant, but some parents told the FBI that he was a manager or director.

Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, asks Iran to free 2 US hikers

MINNEAPOLIS — Yusuf Islam, the British musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, is calling for the release of two American hikers charged with spying in Iran.

A video of Islam pleading for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to be freed on humanitarian and justice grounds has been posted on YouTube. He says they should be released if there’s no clear evidence they’re anything other than hikers.

Another prominent western Muslim, former boxing champ Muhammad Ali, has written to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei twice on the hikers’ behalf.

FBI makes another arrest in missing Somalis case

The FBI has made another arrest in its yearlong investigation into a rash of disappearances from the Somali community in Minnesota.

A 26-year-old medical technician from St. Paul was arrested on Friday and charged with making false statements to FBI officials. His arrest had been under seal until Tuesday, when he appeared in a St. Paul federal court. He was indicted Wednesday on the charges.

An FBI spokesman said that Abdow Abdow’s arrest was related to the ongoing investigation into the two dozen Somali youths who have left the United States and traveled to Somalia to join a militia there called al-Shabab.

The criminal complaint against Abdow says he lied about driving a handful of Somali-Americans from Minneapolis across the country on Oct. 6. One of the young men in the car had his passport and $4,000 in cash. Two other young men who were passengers in Abdow’s car tried to leave the United States through Mexico two days later.

When Abdow was asked about his fellow travelers, he denied they were in the car, the FBI says. When interviewed at work, Abdow allegedly told the FBI, “I’m talking too much.” Then, when he finally admitted having a handful of passengers in his car, he added, “Whatever those guys are into, I’m not.”

U.S. intelligence officials have been following the case out of concern that the Somalis leaving Minneapolis are being funneled to al-Shabab through what might be America’s first jihadi pipeline. Think of the potential pipeline as an underground railroad for jihadists — an intricate but informal network of militants who help their brothers in arms not only travel to terrorist training camps but also return home. The return trip to America is what worries U.S. intelligence. They envision a raft of young men training for jihad and slipping back into the U.S. to launch an attack.

Somalia President condemns Minnesota terror recruiting

The president of Somalia on Sunday denounced the recruiting of young men from Minnesota’s huge Somali community for terrorist activity in his war-ravaged homeland, and said he plans to work with the U.S. government to bring those still alive back home.

President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed spoke with The Associated Press while visiting the Minneapolis area, where authorities believe as many as 20 young Somali men — possibly recruited by a vision of jihad to fight — returned to the impoverished nation over the last two years.

At least three have died in Somalia, including one who authorities believe was the first American suicide bomber. Three others have pleaded guilty in the U.S. to terror-related charges.

”We believe this is a wrong action, that these young men were wronged, they were robbed out of their life. Their parents were wronged,” Ahmed told the AP through an interpreter. ”The laws of the United States were violated. The security of Somalia was violated. So we condemn (them) without reservation.”