The third in a polarizing series of hearings on Islamic terrorism will address the threat posed by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) announced.
King, who reclaimed the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee in January, made headlines in March with a hearing focused solely on the threat posed by Islamic radicalization within the U.S. Last month, the committee examined the threat posed by convicts converted in prison to twisted interpretations of Islam. Part three is scheduled for next Wednesday, July 27.
Fundamentalist Islamic group Al-Shabaab has expanded since 2009 to control most of the southern half of Somalia, fighting the coalition of pro-union forces that control the northeastern portion of the country at the Horn of Africa.
Since 2007 the civil war has attracted at least 21 radicalized men from Minnesota’s Somali-American community to emigrate and fight with Al-Shabaab, which the U.S. designated a terrorist organization in 2008. Eighteen people have been charged in the case. One of them, Omer Abdi Mohamed, 26, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, the Associated Press reports.
This month Brooklyn high school dropout Betim Kaziu, 23, was convicted of conspitring to join either al-Shebaab or the Taliban, filming a “martydom” video before his 2009 capture in Albania.
“This coordinated and ongoing recruitment and radicalization of young Muslim men in the U.S. is a serious and growing threat to our homeland security and simply cannot be ignored,” King said in a statement announcing the hearing.
Terror experts fear the convergence of Al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based directly across the Gulf of Aden in another lawless country ravaged by civil war: Yemen. The hearing will also examine that phenomenon, King said.
AQAP, which counts among its ranks American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki and Saudi bombmaker Khalid Al-Asiri, was behind the 2009 Christmas Day plot against a Detroit-bound airliner and last October’s “printer plot,” in which terrorists sought to blow up air freight shipments over the U.S.