The leaders of a mosque in Minneapolis on Tuesday denied that the mosque is connected to the disappearance of young Somali men from Minnesota.
Some Somali families have said they’re concerned their teenage sons or nephews may have been brainwashed to return to Somalia to fight in that country’s civil war. But the leaders of the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque said they have been unfairly accused of playing a role.
Abdirashid Abdi, a board member and former executive director of the mosque, said officials there "share the pain and grief that the families of the youth who went to Somalia are experiencing."
But he added: "It is unfortunate that some individuals in the Somali community unfairly accused Abubakar Center to have links to the disappearance of the Somali young men. We strongly deny these unsubstantiated allegations. Abubakar Center didn’t recruit, finance or otherwise facilitate in any way, shape or form the travel of these youth."
The trigger for Tuesday’s news conference was a report in Sunday’s Star Tribune on the disappearance six months ago of Mustafa Ali, an 18-year-old man from St. Paul who had been active in the mosque.
Minneapolis is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the U.S. A man who disappeared from Minneapolis is believed to have killed himself in a suicide bombing in northern Somalia last October.
FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson has said the agency is aware of people from throughout the U.S. and Minneapolis traveling to Somali to "potentially fight for terrorist groups." But Wilson would neither confirm nor deny that the FBI and the Justice Department were investigating.