Scandinavia: Somalis concerned about al-Shabaab recruitment

Scandinavia: Somalis concerned about al-Shabaab recruitment

See also: Danish artist's attacker 'tried to recruit Swedes'

Leaders of the Somali community in Sweden and Denmark are now sounding the alarm after Swedish-Somalis told Berlingske Tidende of close contacts between the Danish-Somali axe-man, MMG, and extremists in Gothenburg, who all had links to the terrorist organization al-Shabaab.

Regular visitors to a small mosque in Biskopsgården said that MMG, who's suspected of trying to murder cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, was part of a small delegation last winter who preached and then tried to recruit youth in the district, which has many immigrant residents.

MMG was also seen together with Danish-Somalis suicide bomber ARM, who killed himself and 23 innoncent people in Mogadishu in December.  The two are also supposed to have contacts with the community of the Bellevue mosque in Gothenburg.

The administrators of the Biskopsgården mosque and the Bellevue mosque, Yusuf Abdulkadir, made no comment, but leaders from the more liberal part of the Swedish-Somali and Danish-Somali community are speaking up, while many others are keeping silent due to fear of reprisals.

Berlingske Tidende's story does not surprise the head of the Somali Youth and Development Network in Copenhagen, Abdurashid Artan, who grew up with ARM and who says Gothenburg is the central place for the most religious Danish-Somalis.

"I also think that ARM was there.  He went in any case together with a group of people who used to go up there," says Abdurashid Artan.

And the moderate Muslim community in Gothenburg is taking the information very seriously.

"right now we do not let our children go to koran school for fear that they will be misled and recurited," Abdi Rahman Sheik Muhjadin, imam of one of the more moderate Somali associations in Gothenburg, told Göteborg Posten Thursday.

Swedish-Somalis are also sounding the alarm in Rosengård in Malmø.

"I know that they were here in Malmø.  A guy I know was threatened," Ismail Aadann of the Somaliland Association told Sydsvenska Dagbladet about al-Shabaab recruitment.

Abdisamad Farah, head of the Somali Association in Sweden, told Berlingske Tidende that he himself was told of the visit of MMG and other Danish-Soamlis in Gothenburg, and that he blamed the natioal security services PET and SÄPO.

"They harm our society that these Danish-Somalis were allowed to travel around and raise money and attempt to recruit, without anybody stopping them and charging them.  It's a crime in itself," he says.

A Swedish-Somali told Berlingske Tidende, that Danish-Somalis were in the area as late as last week to collect money, and several said that the goes on around mosques in Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense.  The information is confirmed by young Danish-Somali Mohammed, who goes to a mosque in the Copenhagen area.

"Several times I spoke to people from al-Shabaab, but every time said: no thanks, I adapt my own life and live in a good society," he says.


According to Göteborg Posten's sources, at least a couple of youth were sent from Gothenburg to Somalia last yaer, probably to partiicpate in dangerous attacks.

Abdulkadir Sharif, member of the Somali Association says that there is concern now, although it shouldn't be exaggerated.  But it's clear that parents who heard that others were affected have become frightened.

The association's vice-chairman Ibrahim Nur Hassan, says: "We who have been here a long time think it's unacceptable when we see and hear that our youth are being recruited to fight."

Säpo says that support for al-Shabaab among Swedish-Somalis have fallen drastically recently, due to the organization's increasingly brutal methods and the big debate about the war activities.

Säpo estimates that about 20 people aged 20-30 have traveled to Somalia from Sweden in order to participate in attacks or training camps.  Five Swedish citizens have been killed.

Patrick Peter, press secretary at Säpo, says that those who choose to go do it of their own initiative, and are not usually recruited.  The people who go are of varied backgrounds, not just Somalis and not just people who come from particularly religious families.

Patrik Peter says that the families of those who go usually don't know anything.  Worried relatives hear something and want Säpo to do something, but its diffucult for Säpo to stop these trips, since they need substantial evidence that they will participate in attacks or training camps.


The Somali Association in Sweden (Somaliska Riksförbundet) has condemned the organization Al Shabaab for its terrorist activities. Speaking to Swedish Radio, the head of the Somali Association, Farah Abdisamad, called Al Shabaab a dangerous terrorist group that has connections to Al Qaida.

This is the first time a Somali organization in Sweden disassociates itself from Al Shabaab. Al Shabaab controls vast parts of the central and southern areas in Somalia and has tried to recruit Somalis in Sweden. The United States considers Al Shabaab a growing terrorist organization.


Somalia expert Stig Jarle Hansen says that al-Shabaab in Somalia are using the internet to reach youth in Norway.

Hansen told Klassekampen that they're very talented esthetically in al-Shabaab and they communicate on the net in a way that can appeal to many youth.

He is an associate professor of international relations at the  University of Life Sciences in Ås and an expert on Somalia.

Hansen says that several leaders of al-Shabaab have lived in Scandinavia for several periods.  They also follow Norwegian media and he thinks that a tense atmosphere in Norway can be used to recruit Norwegian-Somali youth to al-Shabaab.

See also: Norway: Extremist sites


Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet says that a 40 year old Norwegian-Somali charged in October 2009 for terrorism financing played a central role in spreading al-Shabaab propaganda on the net.

Before the site was shut down by Norwegian and US authorities in 2009, communication to the Somali terrorist movement was conducted through the site from internet cafe Shabelle Telecom in Grønland, Oslo, claims the Danish newspaper.

Ekstrabladet writes that before it was shut down, was packed with images of fighter and martyrs killed in battle.

the man's lawyer Ann Helen Aarø told that the Norwgian-Somali never admitted to transferring money to al-Shabbab and did not admit guilt to the charges against him.

Aarø says that her client wasn't the owner or manager of Shabelle Telecom, and that the company's Norwegian branch wasn't suspected of aiding al-Shabaab, pointing out the criminal case documents which were made available to the defense.

The lawyer further says that the information that the man had anything to do with spreading nett-propoganda didn't come up in connection to the open part of the investigation by the Norwegian police.

Accorindg to press officer Martin Bernsen of the Norwegian Security Service (PST), his organization closely follows the use of internet as a propoganda tool.

Bernsen can't comment on this specific case.

"Several security services in Eurpe deal with the issues related to European citizens who travel to Somalia to partiicpate in terrorist activities, and this is something we deal with," Bernsen told

According to the paper, al-Shabaab sites are used to promote the movement's militant ideology, and are therefore a central tool in collecting money for its activities and in recruiting Somalis in Europe and the US.

The Danish-Somali accused of attacking Kurt Westergaard is described as a data expert, but there is no information that he participated in hacking or propoganda work for al-Shabaab or al-Qaeda.

Sources: Berlingske Tidende (Danish), Göteborg Posten (Swedish), SR (English), Budstikka, tv2nyhetene (Norwegian)

See also: Sweden: We Somalis must fight terrorism

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