Al Qaeda Video Praises American Jihadists in Somalia

Al-Shabaab released propaganda video featuring three Americans killed in Africa

Hard-line islamist fighters patrol a street in southern Mogadishu, Somalia / AP

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An al Qaeda-affiliated group in Somalia released a video series this week that celebrates several Americans who died while waging jihad in Africa, according to a watchdog group that monitors terrorist activity.

The 39-minute video released by al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, an al Qaeda-affiliated group in Somalia, celebrates and honors "three Americans from Minnesota who joined the group and died fighting in Somalia," according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which first flagged the video in a report provided to the Free Beacon.

Titled "The Path to Paradise: From the Twin Cities to the Land of the Two Migrations," the video is believed to be the first in a series of al Qaeda-produced propaganda videos praising Americans who have joined al-Shabaab.

"Two of the Minnesotans who died are of Somali origin and the third is a Native American who converted to Islam," according to MEMRI’s report. "They came to train in Somalia in 2007-2008 and were killed in 2009."

Utilizing what has become a prime recruiting tool for disaffected Muslims in the West, "the video includes footage of the three encouraging other young Muslims living the West to follow their example and come fight the unbelievers in Somalia," according to MEMRI.

"Minnesota has one of the largest Somali immigrant populations in the country," according to the Immigration Policy Center.

The FBI "conducted a large-scale investigation into this community after some of its members formed ties with al-Shabaab," a narrator states in the new video.

However, "by the time the investigation started, a group of mujahideen from Minneapolis had already arrived in Somalia and were active on the battlefield there," al-Shabaab claims in the video.

Al-Shabaab currently includes some 15,000 militant fighters, according to reports, and has imposed an extremist version of Islamic law known as Sharia across many parts of Somalia.

The Americans interviewed in the video say that they "led a Western lifestyle and had studied in Western schools and universities," according to MEMRI’s report.

As they got older, "the obligation of jihad … stimulated their deep-rooted Islamic sentiment of Islam, reviving their passion for their faith, and calling them to assert their identity as proud Muslims," MEMRI quotes the interviewees as saying.

"In Somalia, they finally enjoyed the freedom to practice all the tenets of their faith, ‘including jihad against the disbelievers,’" according to the video.

Americans who have joined al-Shabaab in Somalia say that they have grown increasingly angry over America’s "invasions of Muslim lands."

One interviewee states that Western Muslims "face the dilemma of whether to join the jihad or else stay in their countries and remain silent over the Western injustices against Muslims—such as the humiliation of Muslims in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo—which is ‘a deadly form of complicity,’" according to the video.

These Westerners "have begun looking at the West, and in particular at the U.S., with implacable hatred and enmity," according to MEMRI’s report. "Armed with a ‘renewed sense of awareness,’ they are bold enough to translate their beliefs into action, e.g., by joining the training camps in Somalia."

The first Minnesotan featured in the video is Dahir Gur, who left the U.S. in 2007 and was "martyred" in June 2009, according to the video.

Gur, who adopted the jihadi name "Mus’ab," is pictured grinning and holding a rifle. He enlisted in a terror training camp with several of his friends and "later spent several months waiting to confront the enemy."

Gur, who is said to have been "eager for martyrdom," was promoted as the commander of a large jihadist unit after spending several months on the battlefield, according to the video.

The second American featured is Abdurahman, who left Minnesota in 2008 and died in September 2009.

Abdurahman, who was known on the battlefield as Muhammad Al-Amriki, converted to Islam in late 2004, according to the video.

In November 2008, Al-Amriki ‘quietly slipp[ed] out of the airport’ along with a group of his brethren on their way to the Al-Shabab training camps," according to MEMRI. "This is accompanied by footage showing an anonymous individual driving on a highway and later entering an unknown U.S. airport."

The third American is Mohamed Hassan, who adopted the same Seyfullah.

He left Minnesota in November 2008 and was killed in September 2009, according to the video.

Seyfullah is said to have graduated from Roosevelt High School and later studied engineering at the University of Minnesota, though he "left before graduating because he wanted to join the jihad."

After urging others from the West to join the fight in Somalia, the video’s narrator "concludes by saying that the ‘Minnesotan martyrs’ sacrificed their blood in defense of their faith in an era of complacency and negligence, and thus inspired many Muslims from the West to make hijra to the land of jihad," according to MEMRI.

Adam Kredo   Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS
Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredo’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

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