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Camilla Biolcati

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Graduate Student of Security Studies,Institute of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University Prague



The purpose of the paper is to contribute to the vast literature regarding the topic of foreignfighters, specifically in reference to Somali youth residing in the U.S. state of Minnesota whohave joined the Al-Shaabab terrorist group. The research is carried out by tracing andanalyzing theory regarding the processes of radicalization, and then applying it to theSomali-American communityemploying the method of content analysis. The choice of this method stemmed from the need to understand and explain a certain behavior or pattern, relating in this specific case to the inner and deeper motivations that led a certain community to be more vulnerable to the influence of jihad. The research question of this research raises concern regarding the most relevant factors that may have influenced some members of the Somali American community in Minnesota to approach the world of jihad and the al-Shabaab group specifically. The research also examines what were the recruitment techniques used by members of that group in order to have a greater grasp on the Somali youth. Therefore, through the study of the current debate amongscholars regarding the push and pull factors that cause an individual to take up the life of aforeign fighter, this paper seeks to shed light on which ones best apply to the particularity ofthe example of the Somali community in Minnesota. As in fact a diaspora community, thischaracteristic is of fundamental importance for understanding the dynamics by whichnationals embark on the activities of extremist groups far from one's home country. Theconclusions that can be drawn from this research regarding factors thathave a greater impact on the radicalization process of American youth of Somali origin andthe ability of the Al-Shabaab group to take full advantage of the particular condition of thatcommunity in the recruitment process. Indeed, what emerges from this analysis is the level ofinfluence of those identity-nationalist and identity-religious elements, as well as the economicand social factors that characterized the two waves of radicalization and recruitment of Somali-American youth of Minnesota examined in this research, referring to the period between 2007 and 2009.