Top United States General, Carter Ham, urged a global fight against Al-Qaeda in Africa, saying it could “export violence” to the West.
Ham is the head of the U.S. Africa Command and has reaffirmed the belief that Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was linked to the horrific September 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.
“If we, the international community, don’t find a way to help the Africans address this threat, it’s going to worsen,” Ham said. “That network will become stronger and they will gain capability to export violence throughout a broader region (other) than Africa and certainly the high potential to export violence into Europe and to the USA,” he added.
Ham admitted that while this particular group did not pose an “imminent threat” on US soil, it did so for U.S. interests worldwide. “That network has already killed four Americans,” he said.
“That to me says that there is an imminent threat. So that is why I think there’s a degree of urgency to the international community finding a way to help the Africans address this problem.” Ham also outlined African and international efforts towards a potential military intervention in northern Mali, which is controlled by AQIM and other terrorist groups.
An al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group, al Shabaab, is also considered a threat to the United States. Last year, I wrote about Federal prosecutor W. Anders Folk’s warning regarding al Shabaab. Folk advised the U.S. to take al Shabaab’s threats to target the U.S. seriously and stressed the fact that the terrorist groups al Shabaab, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the greater al Qaeda organization embrace a common ideology – an aversion for the U.S.
He went on to add that the terrorist group’s ideology “is almost word for word similar to what we heard from al Qaeda pre-9/11 and what we have heard post-9/11. What we hear is an ideology that endorses murder of innocent civilians. We see al Shabaab training their recruits in tactics and techniques similar to what recruits learn in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Moreover, the House Homeland Security Committee has issued a report which affirms that al Shabaab-related federal indictments “account for the largest number and significant upward trend in homegrown terrorism cases” filed by the Department of Justice since 2009.
Despite claims that al Shabaab is too small to present a problem to the U.S., Folk has pointed out that many people were similarly persuaded regarding al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But, as of Christmas, 2009, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted a suicide bombing on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, estimations of al Shabaab’s potential have changed.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, for all practical purposes, functions as command central for al Shabaab operations in the U.S. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, al Shabaab in the area routinely travel back to Somalia for training. Recruitment efforts include using Internet videos, with the purpose of glamorizing the movement. While jubilant in the deaths of martyrs and striving for jihad, they excoriate their enemies in Somalia and the West.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Somali immigrants. This was accomplished via an administrative order. Then, earlier this year, the DHS announced an 18-Month extension of TPS for Somalia. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano re-designated the special status and has extended it until March 17, 2017. More information, regarding TPS for Somalia, is available through the Federal Register.
Unfortunately, some of the Somalis who have been allowed to immigrate to the U.S. were found to be Muslim terrorists. Some have been apprehended, charged and convicted but with suspicious activity continuing, unabated, in Minnesota and no apparent vetting system in use by the DHS, the country remains at risk for another terror attack.