A Twin Cities man whose family believes was involved in a recent suicide bombing in Mogadishu vounteered with youth programs at a well-known Minneapolis mosque before he left for Somalia.
That’s according to Hassan Jama, director of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center.
Farah Beledi, whom family members identified as one of the men behind the attack, spoke at a press conference at the Abubakar mosque in February 2009. We ran an excerpt of his short remarks in my story from Tuesday.
Eight months after Beledi spoke at the mosque, prosecutors allege he was on his way across the Mexico border with a final destination of Somalia to support the terrorist group al-Shabaab. Most of the roughly two dozen young men from Minnesota accused of joining the group worshipped at the mosque. But federal authorities emphasize that there’s no evidence suggesting imams or other mosque officials played a part in the men’s radicalization.
Jama emailed me the mosque’s response to the news about Beledi today. Here is his full statement:
We share the pain and grief that the family members of Farah Beledi are going through, and we are available to assist them with any support we can provide.
AAIC’s Islamic teaching is guided by the Qur’an and the Sunnah (tradition) of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), and does not preach nor condone any form of extremist ideologies. It has not, and will not, recruit for any political cause, nor allow others to do so at the Center.
It is well known that our youth in the Twin Cities have numerous problems. As the largest Islamic Center in Minnesota, we have witnessed that the greatest threats to our youth are rampant gang violence, post traumatic stress as refugees and children of refugees, high unemployment rate, poverty, language barriers, and lack of recreation facilities. To tackle some of these problems, with limited resources, AAIC organizes seasonal youth activities so that they have a safe space to interact, which is also an alternative to associating with gangs. We have also created mentorship programs which encourages high school students to earn college education.
Farah Beledi was not, and had never been an employee of Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center. Rather, he was one of the youth who wanted to take advantage, participate, and sometimes volunteer in our youth programs. Furthermore, Farah was interested to share his past experiences with the public, like he did in the Abubakar open house in February 2009. As for Farah’s alleged travel and his subsequent death in Somalia, the Center has learned that from the media
Finally, we would like to emphasize that Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center (AAIC) does not have a membership, and welcomes all the community members to worship and volunteer at the Center. The Center administration, however, is responsible for all activities and programs it provides. AAIC does not, and will not allow anyone to do any unlawful activities in its premises.