Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recruiting for Al-Shabaab in Bazar Vest

Bazar Vest (“Bazaar West”) is a shopping mall in a culturally enriched neighborhood on the outskirts of the Danish city of Århus, in Jutland. The TV news report below concerns a young ethnic Somali who was recruited by the Somalia-based terror organization Al-Shabaab. The recruiters are said to have run their operation out of Bazar Vest.

The young man’s story is told mostly by his father, who was devastated by his son’s conversion to Salafism and his subsequent repudiation of his family.

Many thanks to Steen for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling. The video is below the jump, followed by a transcript:


00:00 Al-Shabaab — A father speaks out
00:06 It can cause dramatic problems for a young Somali person who joins the Somali terror organization Al-Shabaab. Here Mohammed, the father of a young man, tells the story of his son being forced into the extreme terror organization.
00:30 Mohammed’s son had just finished high school with excellent marks, and had decided to take a year’s leave from school before continuing his education at the university.
00:37 (Father says) He was an extremely open and happy young man. Very helpful and concerned for other people.
00:47 Here at the Bazar in the Danish city of Århus you will find representatives for Al-Shabaab. Here they try to contact young Somalis. Mohammed’s son was in his early twenties and thus a good prospect.
00:57 Al-Shabaab has its roots in Somalia, and is a terror organization comparable to Al-Qaeda. During his year off Mohammed’s son started to go to Bazar West, and here the first contacts were made with Al-Shabaab
01:15 (Father speaks) They contact the people they want to recruit, and then they speak smoothly, slowly and patiently with them. (Speaker) Slowly Mohammed’s son started to put a distance to his family and his friends. (Father) Many tried to talk to him, and tell him that he is following a dangerous track. But he did not listen at all.
01:32 Once in a while the son comes back to his family. But he won’t come in, and he stays put outside the apartment. (Father) Before he always said hello and gave me his hand. But now he refuses to greet me this way; he said I was an unclean person. (Speaker) He said that to you — his father?
01:56  (Father) Yes he said so!
01:57 The terrorist expert Michael Tårnby participated when TV2 interviewed Mohammed. According to Tårnby, isolation from the family is a normal aspect of a radicalization process. (Tårnby) It is normal that the person turns his back on family and friends when he suddenly starts looking at them as non-believers. (Speaker) In the beginning Mohammed had little or no contact with his son, and therefore the father has a limited knowledge of what happened with his son in the time he belonged to Al-Shabaab. (Father). They are a group of people, that isolate themselves from society, and therefore become dangerous.
02:30 (Tårnby) Then they start meeting in private apartments, and as we have seen before, they just disappear more and more into the radical universe. (Speaker after: “filthy Denmark”) According to Tårnby, they are looking at hateful videos like this, and then they test the person over a longer time. Mohammed’s son had “luck”. The family helped him out of Al-Shabaab, but in some ways it is a little too late.
02:56 (Father) They took his life from him. (Speaker) Not literally but after his meeting with Shabaab, the son is sick and are no longer able to start his planned education. How do you feel as father, when such a thing happens?
03:05 (Father) That is not good. A young man like him, he had a future. Now he is in the psychiatric hospital. That is not good.
03:20 (Tårnby) The way the family tells about it proves that he has gone through a radicalization program over a long period. (Speaker) When Tårnby’s report was released in 2010, he pointed out that there were between 200 and 400 young Somalis in Denmark who sympathize with Al-Shabaab Today these numbers seems to have increased.
02:43 (Tårnby) According to the sources we have been talking to, we have reason to fear that there is a rising interest among Somalis to support Al-Shabaab. (Speaker) Michael Tårnby says that it is very important that society beware of this increasing interest. The question is, have the authorities done enough in this matter? (Tårnby) Something indicates that the authorities have failed in this case.
03:06 (Speaker) Mohammed hopes that he — telling his story to television — can help in the struggle against Al-Shabaab. (Father) We shall help the young men and look after them so no more have their future spoiled by Al-Shabaab. Somebody has to stand up and fight them. If not, everything will go wrong!
03:15 (Male speaker) Mohammed has left the hospital, but did not want to comment on this report himself.