June 4, 2014 in Nation/World

FBI says Somalis in Minnesota may be joining rebels in Syria

Amy Forliti Associated Press
 

MINNEAPOLIS – The FBI in Minneapolis said Tuesday it is investigating the possibility that some men have recently left Minnesota to join rebels fighting in Syria, and it is reaching out to the state’s large Somali community to try to prevent others from making the trip.

FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said authorities have indications that some individuals have recently left Minnesota and traveled overseas. He did not elaborate or release an estimated number of people involved, citing the active investigation.

But he did say it’s likely some travelers made their way to Syria, or are headed there, and the FBI has concerns they may have been induced into joining the fight against President Bashar Assad’s government. He said the travelers or potential travelers are believed to be Somali.

“We’re trying to figure out … the impetus for young men traveling overseas. How is this happening?” Loven said. “This is relatively recent, and so we’re still attempting to examine the entire situation.”

The FBI posted a public plea for information on its website Tuesday, asking those who know anyone who is “planning to and/or has traveled to a foreign country for armed combat or who is being recruited for such activities,” to contact the local office.

The move comes about a week after an American from Florida carried out a suicide bombing against Syrian government troops in the city of Idlib. Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha is believed to be the first U.S. citizen involved in a suicide bombing in Syria’s three-year civil war.

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