Somalis Missing From Minn. May Have Returned For months, young Somali men and teenagers have been turning up missing from their homes in Minneapolis. Law enforcement officials have traced them to Somalia, where they are believed to have linked up with a Somali group on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. Now there's word that some of the boys may have returned home.
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Somalis Missing From Minn. May Have Returned

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Somalis Missing From Minn. May Have Returned

Somalis Missing From Minn. May Have Returned

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And now an update on a story we've been reporting on for months. About two dozen young Somali-American men and teenagers disappeared from Minneapolis. The FBI says they traveled to Somalia to train with a terrorist group there. The concern is that they could return and attack here. Now NPR's Dina Temple Raston has learned several have returned home. And she joins us now. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: Ah, so they went to Somalia and have come back.

RASTON: Indeed. There are as many as four of the young men have come back from Somalia and the FBI suspects that they left Minneapolis to train in these terrorist camps last year. And sources are telling us that until recently, these young men had actually been seen around the Somali community in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, but now it looks like they've gone underground. And it's unclear whether they're in protective custody or whether their parents are keeping them under wraps, just to keep them safe.

MONTAGNE: So is, there's still a concern that these particular young men, or, I guess some of them teenagers, right, are actually dangerous?

RASTON: Well not necessarily all the young men are dangerous. The concern was the young man who came back, might try to attack here in the United States. But what we do know is about these as many as four men, the FBI doesn't think they're dangerous. They'd questioned at least two of them, because they're trying to understand how these young men ended up getting recruited, what happened once they arrived in Somalia, and how they managed to get back.

Because what we understand is, the young men were actually stripped of their passports and their money as soon as they arrive in Africa. So it's unclear how any of these guys could come back. And community leaders who've spoken with these young men who have come back, say that they had a change of heart and they didn't like what they saw when they arrived in Africa. So somehow they managed to convince the people who brought them there to let them come back home.

MONTAGNE: Does the FBI have leads on who might be behind this?

RASTON: Well there's a Grand Jury that's been convened, and that indicates they have some people in the crosshairs. But those proceedings are secret. What we understand is, so far the Grand jury has already brought some indictments and there could be more. The Grand jury is still working. And those indictments are sealed and the FBI has declined to comment on this, because they never comment on ongoing investigations and they don't talk about Grand jury proceedings.

So the details are still little murky. And it's not just Minneapolis, we understand there is a Grand jury in San Diego looking at the disappearance of young Somali men there. Boston has opened up an investigation. But all those investigations aren't quite as far along as the Minneapolis one.

MONTAGNE: So is the suspicion that people in the community essentially recruited these young men?

RASTON: Yes, exactly. I mean FBI Director Robert Mueller said as much last month - actually earlier this month. He said that the young men have been recruited and radicalized in Minneapolis. The question now, is whether the people the FBI has focused on are actually part of this terrorist group called Al-Shabab in Somalia, and that's where the young men have been ending up, or whether they are some sort of freelancers, you know, who are just trying to help the civil war effort in Somalia, or maybe they're a combination of the two.

MONTAGNE: Dina, just have a couple of seconds, but how is the community reacting?

RASTON: Well naturally, they're really scared. There are as many as two dozen young men have just disappeared without their parents knowing where they were going to go. So they really want to see some sort of resolution of all of this I think.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much.

RASTON: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Dina Temple Raston.

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