BOSTON (AP) — The FBI is reaching out to Somali communities in New England after young men in Minnesota were recruited to travel to Somalia to fight with Islamic militants.

Warren Bamford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the FBI is staying in close touch with Somali leaders in Boston and Lewiston, Maine, where there are large Somali populations.

Bamford said Tuesday there is no evidence of recruitment going on in the Northeast.

But he said the FBI is concerned about young men in Minneapolis being sought out to travel to Somalia.

“We are concerned about them receiving training, and then of course coming back over here and then utilizing that training in some terrorist attack here,” Bamford said.

Three men have pleaded guilty in the Minnesota-based investigation into Americans going to Somalia for training by al-Shabab, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida.

Somali leaders in Boston say they are cooperating but stress there is no reason to believe local men are participating. They also say they are concerned about racial profiling.

“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that (local) Somali kids are being recruited to go overseas,” said Aatif Harden, director of institutional advancement at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in New England.

“They came here to get away from all the killing. That’s why they left, and they are here so they can re-establish their lives and live freely.

“There is cooperation and then there is profiling. We’re approaching that fine line,” he said.

Bamford said he met with about 60 members of the Somali community at the mosque in October.

“Overall, the Somali community has been very responsive and very concerned,” he said.

“They, like everybody else, they come here and they want to live the American dream. They don’t want to have the police watching them. They don’t want to have the police concerned about them.”

In Minnesota, where the nation’s largest population of Somali immigrants is concentrated in Minneapolis, authorities believe as many as 20 young men have traveled to Somalia to join in fighting there.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a socialist dictator, then turned on each other, causing chaos in the African nation of 7 million. Islamic insurgents with alleged ties to al-Qaida recently intensified their efforts to capture the capital city, Mogadishu.


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