A new terrorist propaganda video posted to YouTube aims to lure Somali-American youths in Minnesota to the Middle East to wage jihad against “infidel forces,” comparing the experience to a visit to Disneyland.
The 39-minute video shows images of smiling, machine gun-wielding young men and onscreen English slogans glorifying terrorism, including “Minnesota Martyrs,” “I am proud to be a traitor to America,” and “the path to paradise.”
WCCO-TV reported that even before the video was posted online on Wednesday, more than two-dozen young Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities had already been lured to overseas terrorist training camps.
According to the Associated Press, at least 20 young men have traveled from Minnesota to join the Somali-based branch of Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab.
The FBI told WCCO that Al-Shabab is believed to be behind the video, which shows images from the streets of Minnesota, graphic photos of dead Muslim children, and U.S. forces operating in the Middle East.
It also shows jihadis in military fatigues lined up in formation marching next to the black Al Qaeda flag.
“It is troubling, because it uses the medium of video to romanticize what it is to go to Somalia and fight,” FBI spokesman Kyle Loven told WCCO. “And it’s appealing, unfortunately, to some young men here in Minneapolis."
Federal law enforcement officials for at least seven years have been investigating the so-called “terrorist pipeline” from Minnesota to Middle Eastern jihadi training camps. The Twin Cities have the largest population of Somali-Americans in the U.S., earning one Minneapolis neighborhood the monicker “Little Mogadishu.”
WCCO reported that the Arabic-language video follows three men, Dahir Gure, Muhammad Al Amriki and Mohamud Hassan as they travel from the Twin Cities to Somali training camps who despite their American education decided to pursue jihad where they eventually met their deaths:
Hassan was an engineering student at the University of Minnesota. Amriki was a graduate of Roosevelt High School.
From their initial reasons to interviews on the battlefield, the men each pause to record their appeals for others back in Minnesota to join Jihad.
In the video, Gure is heard saying, “This is the real Disneyland. You need to come here and join us!”
One of the men says the best food, the best dreams and the best friends can be found in Somalia, Israel National News reported. He recommends Muslims join the mujahedeen and "disconnect from their urges and participate in defeating the unbelievers."
The film’s narrator likens the mission to an ideological struggle between "Islam and heresy."
Abdirizak Bihi, a Minnesotan Somali leader who lost his nephew after he joined Al-Shabab, is trying to combat the terrorist group’s lure.
“We and Al-Shabab have one thing in common: we are competing for the hearts and minds of the young people,” he told WCCO.
The full video, titled “Minnesota’s Martyrs: The Path to Paradise,” can be seen below. Content warning -- graphic images.