Updated: 09/05/2014 7:23 AM
Created: 09/04/2014 5:52 PM KSTP.com
By: Tim Sherno
The latest person to leave Minnesota and travel to Syria to fight for ISIS is a 19-year-old Somali woman who had been living in St. Paul. It's a troubling development considering recruiting in Somali communities has been limited to men in the past. Now, women appear to be the new targets.
Sadik Warfa is a Deputy Director for the Global Somali Diaspora, which is an organization supporting Somalis that repatriates expatriates here in Minnesota and around the world. Warfa says the Somali-American community shares the universal revulsion of the brutality of ISIS.
"The actions of ISIS is roundly condemned by all religious leaders all over the world," he said. "First of all, we are Americans. We are Somali-Americans. The concern for the safety of this country concerns us all."
Warfa points out the number of Somalis that have traveled to Syria to join ISIS is a tiny fraction of the larger community and represents individual decisions. He also says this most recent case serves as a good example that these recruits are misguided.
Kyle Loven with the FBI in Minnesota says the Bureau is working closely with the local Somali community to prevent this from happening.
"We are very actively engaged within the Somali community," Loven said. "We're engaged with religious leaders. We're engaged with community leaders, and we're engaged with concerned members of the public who are abhorred by what they see with respect to their young people and want to put a stop to it."
The FBI says their investigation is ongoing, and they continue to look for connections between the young people on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul and ISIS in Syria. The community is trying to help.
Warfa's message for young Somalis thinking about leaving the state is this: "Please work hard. You're living in one of the greatest countries in the world. You have opportunities that don't exist in other parts of the world. Please take advantage and study hard and become a productive member of society of this great country we have."