Group aims to keep youth away from terrorism

9:12 PM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Al-Shabab has no place in Minnesota and recruitment is not tolerated. That's the message Ka Joog, the only Twin Cities non-profit with a focus on Somali kids, wants to get out.

"Quite honestly speaking I don't think youth are attracted to the idea of al-Shabab," Abdul Mohamed, marketing and public relations director for Ka Joog, said.

Since 2007 the group has offered a variety of programs from music and art to education and mentoring to keep kids out of trouble. Sometimes Somali children get lost up between cultures and life, according to Mohamed.

"They may not feel welcome in mainstream society. They may have failed in school, they may have dropped out, they may have struggled with drug abuse," he said.

Kids struggling to overcome these challenges are often good targets for al-Shabab, he said. Last month a recruitment video uploaded to YouTube by al-Shabab featured "Minnesota's Martyrs." The number of Somali youth from Minnesota who has joined al-Shabab is hard to come by. Some experts estimate it's as little as 5 to as many as 50

"They tell these children there's a better life for you and they use religious justification to basically back their recruitment efforts," Mohamed said.

Ka Joog wants to reach out to these kids before al-Shabab has a chance.

"No one becomes radicalized overnight. There's a lot of underlying issues in the community that makes somebody to become radicalized," Mohamed Farah said.

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