As of this morning, the arrests seem rather mysterious, except for the context of missing young men from the Twin Cities Somalian ex-patriate community. The FBI rounded up a half-dozen suspects in Minneapolis and in San Diego in a Joint Terrorism Task Force operation, but otherwise the feds have been mum about the specifics of the threat or threats:
The FBI arrested several people in Minneapolis and San Diego on Sunday as part of a joint terrorism task force investigation, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger confirmed Sunday evening.
A Somali woman who said she was the mother of two men who were arrested told MPR News that the FBI arrived at her house around noon. One of her sons was arrested at her house; the other was arrested in San Diego. …
Another Somali woman said her son was arrested in Minneapolis around 10 a.m. Sunday, after he returned home from work.
The FBI arrested a total of six men, according to family members, who said they didn’t know why the men had been arrested.
Almost two dozen young men have gone missing over the last eight years, and presumed to have gone back to Somalia to fight with al-Shabaab. The FBI has long suspected that recruiters have sent them overseas, but may be worrying more now about them coming home. Their families have worked with the FBI in an attempt to find them before they get killed, sometimes working against groups like CAIR to cooperate with investigations. The latest arrests have them worried, but now more about ISIS:
Omar Jamal, a Somali activist in Minneapolis, said the community has been abuzz about arrests Sunday of several young Somali men both in Minneapolis and California that appear to be linked to the ongoing investigation related to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Al-Shabab.
“The community is in a state of confusion,” Jamal said Sunday night. “They don’t know what is going on. … This is a very serious issue. We as a community are concerned about losing our kids to [ISIL].”
Not long ago, al-Shabaab announced that they had targeted the local Mall of America as one site for a Westgate Mall-style attack. The proximity of the arrests certainly reminds people of that threat, but it’s not yet clear that this has anything to do with that specific declaration. The New York Daily News reports that the focus is more on ISIS than al-Shabaab in this probe:
Six people have been arrested in two states in connection with a terrorism investigation in Minnesota, where authorities have been tracking youths who have traveled or tried to travel to Syria to fight with militants, including the Islamic State group, authorities said. …
Authorities say a handful of Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to fight with militants within the last year. At least one Minnesotan has died while fighting for the Islamic State.
The FBI will hold a press conference later today to discuss the arrests and the charges. They’ve kept this close to the vest so far, except for the usual assurances that the group presented no immediate danger to the US. We’ll see what they allegedly had in mind soon enough.