Sweden: Visit by spiritual leader of al-Shabaab

Sweden: Visit by spiritual leader of al-Shabaab

See also Wikipedia for more on the Bellevue Mosque.


The invitation of a man identified as the spiritual leader of al-Shabab by the Bellevue Mosque is disturbing many of Gothenburg's Swedish-Somalis.  He brainwashes youth, says Yoonis Hassan.

Yoonis Hassan works as a supervisor at the Gothenburg tram.  He is one of several Swedish-Somalis of varying ages who gathered in central Gothenburg to commemorate Somalian independence.  Some of them regularly visit the mosque in Bellevue.

The youth in the room speak carefully about Xasaan Xuseen, who was invited to speak in a conference starting at the mosque today (Thursday).  The older people have more to say: Yoonis Hassan says that he's calling Somalis home to wage war.  People are concerned about this this, especially parents.

Most of those GP spoke with wanted to remain anonymous.  Everybody is basically convinced that Xasaan Xuseen came to Gothenburg for two reasons: to collect money for al-Shabaab and recruit youth for the group's activities.

"He has supporters in Sweden," says Yoonis Hassan.

Xasaan Xuseen's visit splits Gothenburg's Swedish-Somalis, of those GP spoke with, about 80-90% don't want anything to do with him.

"There are many who are extremely concerned.  It's a controversial person, and we don't want him in Sweden.  It sends the wrong messages to society that he's here," says a middle-aged man with short hair and a mustache.

"I'm Somali.  I am a parent, and I'm Muslim.  What he does has nothing to do with Islam," says another.


The information about Xasaan Xuseen's arrival in Gothenburg have reached the Security Police (Säpo), confirms Malena Rembe, chief analyst for the organization's counter-terrorism unit.

Malena Rembe says that it's not particularly common for people to come to Sweden from other countries and spread this type of violent ideology to the open public.  Rembe says that based on the information they have, they understand this is an extremely controversial person, particularly among Somali-Swedes.

How is Säpo dealing with the situation?  Rembe can't comment on that. 

According to the information, Xasaan Xuseen is Somali but lives in Kenya.  The concerns that he's in Sweden to recruit youth and to collect funds might be well-founded.  According to Säpo  there are currently a dozen Swedish citizens in Somalia, active in al-Shabab's activities in the domestic chaos in the country.

Malena Rembe says that al-Shabaab as an organization is probably not active in Sweden, but there are people who travel from Sweden to participate in al-Shabab's terror activities.

She stresses that Säpo does not officially label organizations as terrorist organizations, but says there's little doubt of how al-Shabaab's activities should be categorized.  A large part of their work-methods are suicide attacks where civilians are killed.  According to Swedish law, it would be defined as terrorism.

Al-Shabaab is a young movement.  They have admittedly collected money in the UK as well as in Scandinavia, but only operated in Somalia.    "But they threatened to attack neighboring countries and Western targets in the region, as well as individuals in Denmark and Sweden," says Malena Rembe.

Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defence College, says that al-Shabaab is not labeled a terrorist organization by the UN or EU (the organization is on the US terrorism list).  He says there's been warnings that the battle in Somalia might be internationalized, but we are not yet at that stage.

What does it mean when a spiritual leader for the movement comes to speak in Sweden?  Magnus Ranstorp says that it will be no exaggeration to say that if they're here, it means something special.

Representatives for the Islamic Sunni Center Faith-Society GP spoke with did not want to comment on the invitation of Xasaan Xuseen.

Sources: GP 1, 2 (Swedish), h/t Muslimska Friskolan

See also: Somalia: Three Swedish citizens die in Jihad

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