Professor Said Samatar’s comments came as police in New York Sunday arrested two men who they say were allegedly preparing to join an al-Qaida-linked militant group in Somalia. Said Samatar, professor of African history at Rutgers University in the state of New Jersey told VOA he lives about an hour’s drive from the homes of the two suspects identified as 20-year old Mohamed Hamoud Alessa and 26-year old Carlos Eduardo Almonte. Professor Samatar told reporter James Butty he fears the arrests will be bad for Moslems in general, and for Somalis in particular.
“I never thought in my life that the day will come when I would be harboring or I would be a terrorist neighbor. Unfortunately, that would be bad for Moslems in general and Somalis in particular because now I think the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) will be following our movement,” he said.
Professor Samatar said the arrests refocus attention in Somalia, especially at a time when the West has been suspecting that Somalis were being recruited by Al-Qaida through the militant group Al-Shabab
He expressed regrets that young Somalis were being brain-washed and radicalized by the Internet and some mosques.
“As you know, the world, because of the Internet, has become one global village now. So, the indoctrination they received through the Internet, plus going to these mosques where they are brainwashed by these Pakistani, Afghani mullahs, the guys with the long beards who would tell them about this world of pleasure that is waiting for them,” he said.
Professor Samatar said the inability of young people to cope with the challenges of life in America often drive them to the mosques where he said they sometime find relief in the teachings of the mullahs.
He said the greatest peril facing Western countries is not from the threat posed by international terrorists.
“The danger facing the West is young people who are brought up here, who speak English like Americans, but with an accent, who know the American culture, who have American passports. The West is in danger from these people being turned into what they called sleeper cell(s), waiting to be triggered by (al-Qaida mastermind Osama) Bin laden in his own good time,” Samatar said.
He said there are some attempts in the Somali-American community to help young people. But, Professor Samatar said the ideology of dying in the service of God seems to be appealing to some young people.