November 7, 2011 To: Minnesota Law Enforcement Agencies The undersigned Minnesota Somali and Muslim organizations would like
to bring to your attention an upcoming anti-Muslim and anti-Somali training for Minnesota law enforcement, entitled “Understanding the People of Somalia, Their History, Their Culture and Their Lives in America.” This training is scheduled for November 10, 2011. We believe that because of the presenters‟ lack of academic or sound knowledge about “Islamic Extremism” and “Youth Gangs,” as well as their history of controversial statements against the Somali and Muslim community, your agency was misled about these presenter‟s qualifications and attendees will receive inaccurate and biased information about Muslims and Somalis. The training brochure refers to Al Shabaab as an “Islamic extremist terrorism” organization and fails to distinguish between Islam and terrorism. One of the presenters is also referred to as a speaker on “Islamic extremism.” The Muslim community rejects this biased labeling of a religion practiced by over 1.4 billion people worldwide. Trainings by unqualified, agenda-driven individuals influence the way peace officers perceive and treat the American Muslim community, leading to a rise in racial and religious profiling. Recent reports have highlighted the FBI‟s use of biased experts and anti-Muslim training materials nationwide. This problem extends well beyond FBI trainings. The United States Congress is now scrutinizing these practices.
See: Congress Grills FBI Chief About Anti-Islam Trainings http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/fbi-chief-anti-islam-training/
In light of this prevalence of inaccurate and biased information, law enforcement agencies around the country must take a closer look at the credentials of purported experts on Muslims, including Somali Muslims, before allowing their officers to be trained by them. The seminar on November 10, 2011, is sponsored by the Center for Somalia History Studies (CSHS), which was incorporated a little over a month ago by former Ramsey County Sherriff Bob Fletcher. As of November 6, 2011, the organization‟s website contains no information other than a brochure and registration information for the upcoming seminar. Because the organization has only been in existence for a short time, no IRS information is available.
See: Center for Somali History Studies http://centerforsomaliahistorystudies.com
Two of the presenters, Omar Jamal and Dahir Jibreel, have current or former affiliation with the Somali Justice Advocacy Center (SJAC), which was incorporated in 2004. According to IRS disclosure regulations, “… exempt organizations must make their three most recently filed annual 990 or 990-PF returns and all related supporting documents available for public inspection. This public disclosure rule also applies to Form 1023, which is filed to obtain exempt status.” There are no records for SJAC since its incorporation. We not only question how this
Page 1 of 3
organization receives current and past funding, but we question where participant registration fees will be going. Additionally, the presenters‟ credentials are highly questionable. The vast majority of the Somali population in Minnesota views Omar Jamal and Abdirazak Bihi as unrepresentative of their community and unqualified to speak on the topics outlined in the upcoming presentation. Neither have any academic or practical experience relevant to the topics to be presented. Furthermore, Mr. Jamal is highly controversial and a convicted felon. Mr. Jamal has been convicted of lying to immigration officials. As the former Executive Director of SJAC, he acknowledged he did not file proper IRS documentation for his organization, yet boasts of having raised $80,000 in funds one year. He was the only paid staff.
See: When Somalis are in the news so is Omar Jamal (MPR) http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/04/24/omar_jamal/
Mr. Jamal has no known educational background, and no academic qualifications for his opinions. Over the last decade, he has made many unsubstantiated hate-inspired and fearmongering statements, such as referring to Minneapolis as a “slaughterhouse for immigrants.” His statements have cast a dark cloud over the Somali population in Minnesota. Mr. Jamal has failed to present facts to support his irresponsible allegations. It would be irresponsible for organizations such as yours to sponsor his fear mongering disguised as discourse. Abdirazik Bihi‟s media spotlight came about with the news of the “missing Somali men” in 2008. Since that time he has capitalized on these horrendous events by making unfounded and false allegations of Al-Qaida recruitment by local Muslim religious leaders. Mr. Bihi even went so far as to testify against the Somali Muslim community in MN before Congress at a hearing chaired by Rep. Peter King (R- NY), whose platform has been to create hysteria about American Muslims. In 2004, King claimed in an interview with conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity that "no American Muslim leaders are cooperating in the war on terror," and that “80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists .... This is an enemy living amongst us.”
See: Congressman: Muslims „enemy amongst us‟ http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=37099
Both Mr. Jamal and Mr. Bihi have publicly accused local mosques and imams of indoctrinating youth to go and fight in Somalia. Not only has the FBI repeatedly cleared local mosques and imams of any such activity, recent trials have clearly demonstrated that any fundraising for terrorism occurred on an individual basis. According to FBI Special Agent E.K. Wilson, the FBI has not found “any evidence to date that shows the mosque leadership was involved in the recruiting or radicalization of these guys,".
See: Minneapolis mosque spurned al-Shabaab fundraiser (Pioneer Press) http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_19211196
Page 2 of 3
See: Minnesota Muslim leaders skeptical and disappointed after radicalization hearing (MPR) http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/03/11/muslim-hearings-twin-cities-community/ See: A Call to Jihad Answered in America (New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/us/12somalis.html See: Rochester women guilty of aiding Somali terror group (Star Tribune) http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/132239033.html
Mr. Jamal and Mr. Bihi have faced no repercussions for their baseless and defamatory accusations that have created hate and fear against Somalis and Muslims. Like Mr. Jamal, Mr. Bihi has no known educational qualifications. His organization, the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, which was incorporated in 2003, has no searchable IRS documentation, and Mr. Bihi himself has a checkered past. In March 2011, there was an active warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his probation.
See: Domestic terrorism hearing witness from Minneapolis has had a troubled past (Pioneer Press) http://www.qaranimo.com/2011/mar/domestic_terrorism_witness_has_troubled_past_mar_12_2011.htm
Somalia has not had a functional government for over two decades. Therefore, we find the presenters‟ assertions that their governmental posts are somehow relevant to the topics being discussed as illusory. If any of your officers have registered for this seminar, we urge you to withdraw your participation. We are working on providing law enforcement accurate and professional information on Islam and the Somali culture and will contact you with that information shortly. Sincerely, Abubakr As-Siddiq Islamic Center Building Blocks of Islam Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota (CAIR-MN) EngageMN Imam Hussain Islamic Center Irshad Islamic Center Islamic Resource Group Ja'afari Islamic Center Karmel Business Association Masjid Al-Ihsan Masjid An-Nur Muslim American Society of Minnesota Sisters Need a Place Somali Action Alliance Women of Africa Resources and Development Association (WARDA) World Peace Organization Young Somali-American Advisory Council to B. Todd Jones, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota
Page 3 of 3