Tag Archives: NBC

‘He was brainwashed’ — a Somali-American man’s account of his nephew’s recruitment by al-Shabaab

This evening, NBC Nightly News aired a report on Islamic extremists recruiting in Minneapolis.

“For years, Minneapolis has been a target for terrorist recruiters seeking angry, disillusioned young men,” reporter Ron Allen said.

Tens of thousands of Somalis live in a Minneapolis neighborhood called Little Mogadishu where recruitment of young men into Islamic extremist groups is “an all too familiar story,” Allen said.

Allen interviewed a Somali man about his nephew’s recruitment (the report included the names but did not show them on the screen, so I cannot spell them).

Allen: “You lost your nephew.”

Somali man: “Yeah.”

Allen: “What happened?”

Somali man: “He was brainwashed.”

The nephew, Allen said, was “lured” back to Somalia in 2008, when the kid was only 17 years old.

The nephew died a year later while fighting for al-Shabaab, the same group behind last year’s attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Robbinsdale, Minnesota, a town in the Minneapolis area, was also home to Douglas MacArthur McCain, who reportedly died last week while fighting for Islamic State.

The word “brainwash” has been used more frequently as Western males have started fighting for Islamic extremist groups.

Some have become radicalized before traveling to areas controlled by Islamic extremists, while others might have been tricked into entering extremist groups.

In at least one case, a young man (from Belgium) traveled to the Middle East because he was led to believe he would be helping a charitable organization, but the organization was actually an extremist group.

Like many stories, the story of Zia Adbul Haq of Queensland, Australia, suggests religious brainwashing is most successful in times of crisis.

The 33-year-old had told those closest to him that he’d travelled to the [Syrian] region to find a wife after the breakdown of his marriage…
Friends told an Australian news organization that Zia “fell off the rails and under the spell of the extremists,” and  “Zia has been brainwashed.”

Life’s difficulties also seemed to be making restless, unemployed young men in Minneapolis easy targets for jihadist brainwashing, as Allen of NBC News suggested.
Even when Somalis enter the U.S. for legitimate reasons, some of them, somehow, become radicalized. As Michelle Moons of Breitbart.com reports,
NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] reports have noted the high level of terrorist activity in Somalia, as terrorist group al-Shabaab has intermittently controlled various key regions of Somalia. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention document cites Office of Refugee Resettlement statistics that list Minnesota, California, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. as locations where the majority of Somalis have settled in the U.S. Thousands have come to the U.S. as refugees under the banner of fleeing war and persecution in their home country. Current population estimates of Somali-born individuals living in the U.S. range from 35,760 to 150,000.

Trouble with radicalized Somalis has been building for years. Here’s a snapshot:

Oct. 31, 2011: “Suicide bomber in Somali attack was reportedly from Minneapolis

Aug. 5, 2010: “14 U.S. citizens charged with trying to join Somali terror group

July 20, 2009: “Minneapolis struggles with Somali gangs

On ‘Meet the Press,’ David Brooks nails the Irene panic in Washington, D.C.

New York Times columnist David Brooks, part of the “Meet the Press” round table, said on this morning’s show, “In Washington, all the lobbyists were stocking up on Pinot Grigio, the panic was so bad.”

NBC’s ‘Life’

Here’s what L.A. Times TV critic Mary McNamara said about NBC’s ‘Life’:

NBC’s new show about Charlie Crews, a cop sprung after 12 years in the pen for a frame job, is the best new show of the season. Balancing Zen and vengeful rage, Crews (Damian Lewis) is the most interesting quirky cop since Columbo.

I couldn’t say it better and briefer than McNamara, but I’ll add a layman’s evaluation of the religious and philosophical content of the show:

I’m drawn to this show because Damian Lewis does a thoroughly convincing job of portraying a peculiar character who (1) genuinely appreciates every little thing in life following his time in prison, and (2) seeks a religio-philosophical path to mitigate a barely visible but driving anger. As with the ambiguities of all personalities in a fallen world, Crews’ cassette recordings of Eastern spiritual-philosophical texts help him remain calm at times, and don’t make a difference at other times, when he comes close to losing his cool or leaves his partner at a crime scene to pursue answers to why he was unjustly imprisoned. This points to the value, and to the limits, of ethical philosophies and religions — they help control human nature, but they cannot transform human nature. So when a friend of mine said most evangelical Christians are functionally Buddhists — denying passions instead of allowing God to transform those passions, managing desires instead of learning how to relate to God and others in love — I thought he was onto something. Furthermore, in the ethical systems that have interested me, Stoicism and Confucionism, as well as in Buddism, there are purposeful guidelines and rich thinking, but never a Person who will love you.

Ratings haven’t been great for “Life,” but there’s good news.

“The action-fantasy ‘Chuck’ and the crime drama ‘Life’ have both received full-season orders, despite less-than-stellar ratings,” reported the Contra Costa Times.

Give the ratings a bump. Catch up at NBC.com/Life and then tune in when the holidays — and hopefully the writers’ strike — are over.

-Colin Foote Burch