Somali ‘Travelers’: The Holiest Gang, Part III

Somali ‘Travelers’: The Holiest Gang, Part III

How young Somali immigrants searched for belonging, and found jihad. Last of a three-part series. (Part I) (Part II)

Somali-American terror recruits have common roots in an impoverished, neglected and sometime oppressed immigrant community. Their feelings of impotence and isolation -- and their desperate searches for structure -- are not new. But for the most part, any violent impulses simmered under the surface until late 2006, when the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia gave American Somalis -- and their kinsmen all over the world -- a cause on which to hang their dissatisfaction.

In December of that year, thousands of Ethiopian troops streamed into neighboring Somalia, supported by fighter jets and columns of tanks. The attack was aimed at preventing what Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi called the "Talibanization" of Somalia by the Islamic Courts Union, at the time the umbrella group for Al Shabab and other Islamists.

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