Two days after a Somali man was arrested in Columbus on terrorism charges, Somalis gathered to protest the ouster of Somalia’s popular prime minister.
They fear that more political instability in the war-ravaged country could give Islamic extremists a leg up in their fight against Somalia’s shaky government.
That in turn could increase the risk that al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group, will step up recruitment of young men in the United States and elsewhere to join their cause.
“Al-Shabab wants these guys to leave because they’re taking steps to eliminate al-Shabab,” said Jibril Mohamed, who leads the Somali Community Access Network in Columbus.
At least 200 Somalis gathered in the parking lot of the closed Value City department store at Innis and Westerville roads, waving blue Somali flags and giving speeches protesting the removal of Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
Mohamed is an American citizen and was an official for the housing authority in Buffalo, N.Y.
But the prime minister must resign in 30 days because of an agreement by Somalia’s president and parliamentary speaker to extend the transitional government for one year, sacrificing Mohamed’s job in the process.
With even more instability overseas, Jibril Mohamed fears that “al-Shabab will continue to recruit young people in Somalia, young people in America, young people in Europe.”
On Thursday, the FBI arrested Ahmed Hussein Mahamud at his Northeast Side apartment after he was indicted in Minnesota and accused of providing support, including money and people, to al-Shabab in Somalia.
The 26-year-old had moved from the Minneapolis area four months ago.
“If that man was not caught in time,” said Khadra Mohamed, 42, a local community organizer, “we don’t know what would have happened.”
Somalis yesterday said they want the U.S. government to support the prime minister.
A member of the prime minister’s cabinet is a Westerville man, Abdinur Mohamud, who left his job as a language consultant for the Ohio Department of Education to become minister of education, culture and higher education.