Somalia is an Islamic terrorist hotspot. Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, was responsible for the Kenyan mall attack in September 2013, and it is based in Somalia. With some 7,000 members, it is a major threat on all fronts. Given Al-Shabab's direct links to Al-Qaeda there is little wonder that Somalis would face a difficult time getting into the United States. However, that doesn't stop Minnesota Somalis from whining about the difficulties, and the press from taking up the cause. Minnesota has a large Somali population, and is itself the focus of FBI scrutiny for active Al-Qaeda recruitment. But is this ever the focus? Not in Minnesota, not anywhere for that matter.

kb95bqIt is tragic when family members are separated, but within the Somali Islamic population in Minnesota, the reasons for immigration woes should be obvious. Minnesota has the highest Somali immigrant population in America, which stands at 50,000 plus. One could make the case that Minnesota is a little Somalia that just keeps growing.

Amina Awnur is in Willmar. Her ­husband is in limbo.

For four years, Awnur has been trying to get U.S. authorities to allow her husband to come to Minnesota from Kenya. He has repeatedly gone to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi with documents, but officials tell him they need more.

“I am really frustrated and very tired, because it has taken so long,” she said through an interpreter.

The 30-year-old Somali-born woman, who now is a U.S. citizen, is among ­hundreds of refugees whose family ­members are hung up in Africa, struggling to prove to the State Department that they are who they say they are.

The problem is Al-Shabab in Somalia, but it's not limited to Somalia. Al-Qaeda recruitment among Somalis in Minnesota is disturbingly high, but hardly surprising. In typical fashion, the Star Tribune's headline is "Somali woman living in Willmar can't get her husband into U.S." Once again, the problem is Islam, but in a state with open Islamic representatives like Keith Ellison, any mention of open terrorist ties with Somalis will be scrubbed. Then again, this would be the case anywhere. This is an American "Islamophobia" problem.

Waiting sometimes for years to have their visas approved, they are children, parents, siblings and spouses displaced by the continuing upheaval in Somalia. Stuck in Kenya, they have been unable to provide satisfactory paperwork establishing their identity, according to immigration lawyers in the Twin Cities.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Leslie Karam, whose firm recently filed a lawsuit against a State Department official in Nairobi on behalf of a Minnesota man who is trying to get his wife out of Kenya. “The U.S. consulate in Nairobi has indicated their administrative processing can take several months,” the lawsuit says. “It has been almost two years.”

hassan012014If one's identity cannot be proven, how would one expect immigration to be easy? Also, with a renewed focus on Al-Qaeda recruitment among Minnesota Somalis, the likelihood of any immigrant coming from this region into the United States would come under higher scrutiny, especially from the FBI.

A State Department spokeswoman said that “most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview, but the timing can vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.”

She said that Somalis are treated the same as applicants from other countries, and more than 1,000 visas were issued to Somalis in the 2013 federal ­fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30.

“At the same time, we must ensure that applicants do not pose a security risk to the United States and otherwise are eligible for a visa” she said in an e-mail. “Applicants sometimes require additional screening to determine whether they are eligible.”

Federal authorities have been concerned about possible links between Somali immigrants to the United States and Al-Shabab, a group that has recruited young Somali men to fight in the Somali civil war. The State Department has designated Al-Shabab as a terrorist group and alleged that it has links to Al-Qaida.

One thousand visas for Somalis aren’t many when there are 500,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and thousands who want to join their relatives in the United States, said Minneapolis attorney Abdinasir Abdulahi. He laughed when told that the State Department said that most processing is resolved in 60 days. “For ­people whose cases are languishing for three or four years, that’s not true,” he said.

One thousand visas from a region directly affiliated with Al-Shabab is 1,000 too many. When is the United States going to stop allowing Muslim immigrants, from any jihadist region, to enter this country? It's always the same thing. The press downplays the effects of Muslim immigration, the direct link between Somalis and Al-Shabab, and also the active recruitment of Somalis by Al-Qaeda. They are all interconnected, intertwined in every way possible.

Minnesota has a Somali immigrant problem because of their great welfare benefits. With this, more keep coming, and they can't come fast enough to suit the ones who are already there.

Federal law enforcement officials said they are tracking other U.S. residents traveling abroad, specifically Somali Americans from Minnesota who have gone to fight in that country.

This is a problem. Al-Qaeda is growing in strength and numbers, and the recruitment is centered in Minnesota and within the Somali immigrant community. So any "hang-ups" within the immigration system would and should be expected. Since Somalia does not provide satisfactory paperwork for its citizens, and given the fact that there is no way to prove who directly involved with Al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda, the idea that anyone could get into the U.S. from this region is terrifying. But they are, and they will continue to. While they wait, they whine about how long it takes, and the press prints the sob stories, without highlighting the truth about Somalis affiliated with Al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda.

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