SOMALIA: Tactics of al-Shabab
Details are emerging about how terrorists in Somalia have lured young American men ? including as many as 20 from Minnesota ? back to their homeland to join their jihad. A
Court proceedings and interviews with community members, attorneys and terror experts indicate the Somali-based terror group, al-Shabab, uses widespread recruitment tactics including a vast Web-based network.
Like many terror groups, al-Shabab uses Internet videos to draw disenfranchised young men into its fold. Many feature typical militant scenes: men with covered faces firing automatic weapons, marching or practicing martial arts. Some show close-up footage of dead bodies and religious documents.
But al-Shabab's propaganda sets it apart.
Some videos show English-speaking suicide bombers reciting last wills. Others showcase a man with shoulder-length brown hair who calls himself Abu Mansour the American commanding fighters and glorifying jihadists killed in Somalia.
Al-Shabab's online propaganda proliferated in recent years after messages from Osama bin Laden appeared on jihadist forums encouraging followers to go to Somalia.
Experts say Western recruits' passports and cultural awareness make them valuable, since you can't take someone from the slums of Mogadishu and take them on some suicide mission to Rome, Paris, New York,"
The conspiratorial air is part of this group bonding," Hoffman said. "That kind of atmosphere makes these young men think that what they are doing is all the more important."
Hoffman also said terror groups use a network of friends, many of whom act like persuasive salesmen, to help recruit.
Many young Somalis inwho left have stayed in touch through Facebook or phone calls. In those conversations, friends said, the men talked about life in Somalia being harder than expected, and of missing American food and Starbucks. The Facebook accounts are private.