FBI chief warns U.S. terrorism recruits pose special dangers
In a visit to the Seattle field office Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller warned of the dangers posed by outside attempts to recruit young American Muslims and train them to become terrorists.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In a visit to the Seattle field office Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller warned of the dangers posed by outside attempts to recruit and radicalize young American Muslims, but wouldn't discuss an ongoing investigation into reports that a young Somali man from Seattle was involved in a suicide bombing that killed 20 in Mogadishu last month.
Mueller said he didn't "talk about particular investigations." His more general comments reflected testimony he has provided to Congress on the issue, in which he has said these recruits — who travel for terrorist training to Somalia or Pakistan — pose a special threat here because they may have access to U.S. passports and are familiar with Western society.
Mueller said communities being targeted by the radicals are "every bit as patriotic as any other community in the United States," and urged members to cooperate. "They are a substantial part of the solution to this," he said.
In May, Mueller told members of the House Judiciary Committee that the bureau was aware of "young men from communities in the United States, radicalized and recruited here to travel to countries such as Afghanistan or Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia" for terrorist training and to fight, often for groups affiliated with al-Qaida.
He delivered the same message before the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, after a long summer that saw several major terrorism cases emerge, including the bureau's attempts to confirm that a young Somali man from Seattle was one of a team of suicide bombers in Mogadishu in early September.
The director's comments about the bureau's efforts to penetrate and cooperate with Muslim communities were less enthusiastic than those he offered Thursday in Seattle. The Somali community, in particular, has proved "more insular" than some, he told senators.
As many as 20 Minnesota Somali men are believed to have been recruited by al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida, and at least three have died. Last fall, 27-year-old Shirwa Ahmed from Minneapolis blew up himself and 29 others in a suicide bombing at a United Nations checkpoint in Mogadishu.
In July, a 25-year-old graduate of Seattle's Roosevelt High School, Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, pleaded guilty in Minnesota to providing support to terrorists in connection with U.S. recruitment efforts by al-Shabaab.
Earlier that summer, federal authorities received information that Ruben Shumpert of Seattle, an African American who converted to Islam in prison, was reportedly killed in a U.S.-supported rocket attack near Mogadishu.
Mueller also briefly discussed the unsolved slaying of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales, who was gunned down eight years ago this coming Sunday in the basement of his Queen Anne home.
"For the last eight years, it has been a priority case," Mueller said. "It continues to be a priority case."
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