The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 26, 2014

Family ties protect Somalis in Mankato

Mankato's Somalis supported by community, schools


Qanyare has a friend who returned to help build schools. He wants to do something similar, but his parents don't want him to go because they believe it is still too dangerous. Ibrahim agrees with that assessment.

"I would like to go back and help the Somali community, but I'm not ready yet and they're not ready yet," she said. "Maybe someday, but not now."

Qanyare knows many of the Somali teens and young adults in Mankato. There is no way a radical group could start recruiting young people in Mankato without Somali elders finding out and putting a stop to it, he said.

FBI connections

It is not uncommon for a local FBI agent to attend events at the Mankato Islamic Center. He knows the Somali elders, chats with the kids and listens to any concerns people there may have.

The agent, who didn't want to be identified in a story about a 2012 event, is welcome at the center, as is anyone else who wants to stop by, Qanyare said. The elders see it as a safety issue, Qanyare said. His father is an elder and the elders don't see any conflict with having an FBI agent visiting their place of worship.

"For me, it's all about safety," Qanyare said. "Why not be safe? Anyone who is willing to help is alright with me."

The FBI has a community outreach program in each of its offices in the state, said Special Agent Kyle Loven, the FBI spokesman for Minnesota. They participate in a variety of festivals and other events at schools and with any other group that's willing to participate. They only work with groups that want to work with them.

"Anytime the FBI shows up, the thought is something bad has happened," Loven said. "Through outreach, we are trying to be part of the community by providing education and showing the human side of the FBI."

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