Statement on Entrapment of MN Muslim Youth and State Repression of the Somali Community
Nine young men in our community were entrapped by the FBI and now face trumped up charges and potentially decades inside prison. As of April 26th three have held out against pressure and have chosen to not take plea deals and cooperate with the government. They are set to begin trial on May 9th in Minneapolis. We are asking everyone in the anti-war community to show up to support our Somali and Oromo brothers and their families. These young men are beloved sons, breadwinners, students, friends; their names are Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, Abdurahman Yasin Daud, and Guled Ali Omar.
This case is part of an ongoing organized attack against the East African community facing rising levels of Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and government repression. Since 9/11, the US government has targeted Muslim community members and manufactured terror cases to sow fear and distrust, to justify massive spending for the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and to criminalize people whose homelands are being bombed by the US government and who speak out against US foreign policy.
These youth face charges of “conspiracy to commit murder abroad” and “conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization” for allegedly making plans to join Daesh, otherwise known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). An FBI informant, who may himself have been bribed or blackmailed by authorities, cultivated these young men and was paid $41,000 to manufacture the case. After reading the criminal complaint against these entrapped men, Kamal Hasan, a relative of another young man who earlier in 2015 plead guilty to trying to enlist with Daesh/ISIL, shared: “When the families confiscated [the passports] and prevented them from traveling, the FBI offered them fake passports, offered to buy their cars so they could buy tickets and travel. To us, that means they [the FBI] are facilitating and helping these kids break the law.” Abdurahman Daud’s attorney, Bruce Nestor, said: “These young men did not conspire to commit murder or any act of violence. This is a political prosecution as part of the flawed U.S. war on terror.” Six of the nine have decided to take plea deals and are now being pressured to work with the government. Those who did plead out are still potentially facing 15 years in prison, while the remaining three potentially face decades inside prison.
This case serves to further criminalize the Somali and Muslim community and justify federal funding for the FBI, DHS, and DOJ Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. Minneapolis is one of three cities participating in CVE (Los Angeles and Boston were the other two pilot cities), and one of four cities participating in the international Strong Cities initiative. CVE incentivizes teachers, guidance counselors, religious leaders, and public health workers to watch for “early indicators of extremism” and to notify law enforcement of potential targets. Minneapolis Public Schools specifically hired people to watch Somali youth and to “spot identity issues and disaffection.” This racist and xenophobic program further alienated a community already under attack. In 2007 and 2009, intelligence gathering programs were framed as community outreach when, in reality, mosques and community centers were used as centers for surveillance. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, this intelligence was used to make a list of “radicalized youth” that was then kept on a police database shared with the FBI. The Muslim and Somali community has taken a powerful stand against CVE, with over 50 Minnesota Muslim organizations having signed onto a statement that opposes the program, citing concerns of civil rights violations and discrimination.
The fervor with which these young men are being targeted and persecuted speaks to the government’s racism and islamophobia. The law enforcement system repeatedly ignores violent crimes by white supremacist and right wing extremist organizations, while instead targeting oppressed communities. Three white supremacists shot five Black protesters outside the 4th precinct police station in North Minneapolis demanding justice for Jamar Clark, the young Black truck driver executed by the Minneapolis Police Department this past November. Despite clear evidence that their actions were premeditated, fueled by white-supremacist ideology, and that the assailants intended to kill Black protesters, the shooters are only facing felony charges of second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon and one of them, Scarsella, faces second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Despite posing an immediate threat to the safety of community members, only one is currently incarcerated and the Hennepin County Attorney’s office (the same office who failed to indict Jamar’s murderers) have allowed the defense to use stall tactics. On February 24th, a mosque in South Minneapolis named the Umatul Islam Center was vandalized by a white man in his 50s, causing over $5,000 in damages. The person arrested is the subject of over 170 police reports, and yet was only apprehended after significant community pressure and a visit to the mosque by Governor Dayton. Yet now, nine young East African Muslim men, who have never had any previous contact with the criminal injustice system, who were serving their communities and supporting their families, face spurious charges with incredibly serious consequences despite clear evidence of entrapment.
The Feds have also targeted community leaders in the process of charging these youth. Imam Hassan “Jaamici” Mohamud was hired by the defense as an expert witness on Islamic law, but decided to remove himself so as not to further prejudice the defendants after the prosecution defamed his character and dangerously slandered his name in the media. The government pressured some of the entrapped youth to claim Imam Hassan preaches extremism, when in reality he is a respected leader in the community who preaches moderation. As a religious and legal scholar, Imam Hassan served as an invaluable asset to the defense with knowledge of the US legal system, Islamic law, and Somali culture. An attack on him is simply another tactic the government is using to isolate the community and delegitimize one of their leaders.
The Anti-War Committee was raided and targeted by the FBI in 2010, also for supposed material support of terrorism. We have an intimate understanding of how the government seeks to scapegoat Arabs and Muslims, and in particular, the Somali community in Minnesota, and how they use fear and the specter of terrorism to try to divide communities and turn people against each other. We helped found the Committee to Stop FBI Repression to defend itself and the anti-war movement from political repression. We are a part of a national movement to defend activists from surveillance, entrapment, and criminalization. We have worked on the cases of Carlos Montes, Rasmea Odeh, the Holy Land 5, the Somali women from Rochester Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan, and the cases of other Arab and Muslim leaders and activists. We see these local cases of East African youth entrapment as an extension of our
work nationally to defend our movement.
Join us as we stand with these youth, their families and community leaders! Fight Islamophobia and Defend the Muslim Community! Say No to CVE and the Criminalization of the Somali Community!
* Call US Attorney Andrew Luger @ 612-664- 5600 to say stop targeting the Somali community!
* Join us at the federal building at 5pm every Thursday of the trial to Stand With Muslim Youth Entrapped by the FBI