WASHINGTON // The Somalia-based Al Shabab terror group linked to Al Qaeda is actively recruiting Muslim Americans for terror strikes on the United States, a US politician warned yesterday.
"We must face the reality that Al Shabab is a growing threat to our homeland," said Republican Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee. Yesterday's hearing was the third in a controversial series looking at possible threats posed by homegrown Islamist extremists.
Critics charge that Mr King's focus on Muslim Americans plays into the hands of extremists who say Washington is wrongly targeting Islam after the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes.
Tens of thousands of Somali immigrants and their US-born children live in places, such as the Minneapolis-St Paul, in the midwestern US state of Minnesota. According to Mr King, US counterterrorism officials told the committee they fear that a Shabab fighter "may attempt an attack here".
Mr King mentioned Shirwa Ahmed, a Minneapolis resident who is "the first confirmed American suicide bomber in our history," as well as Omar Hammami, identified as a Shebab leader "who was raised a Baptist in Alabama, and who repeatedly threatened the US homeland".
Mr King said the Shabab "has successfully recruited and radicalised more than 40 Muslim Americans and 20 Canadians, who have joined the group inside Somalia".
Neither Al Qaeda "nor any of its affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim Americans and Westerners to jihad," he said.