Bayissa, Telile, Class of 2007 – (Ethiopia)

Practicum Summary:

Youth Radicalization: Second generation Somali youth and support for Al-Shabaab in the U.S.

Telile’s research focuses on the radicalization among second-generation immigrant youth in Western countries, the terrorism group Al-Shabaab’s relationship with the Somali Community in the U.S., and existing strategies used to counter the recruitment of youth in the U.S. into Al-Shabaab. Telile points out that second generation radicalized groups most likely have a normal life and little if any criminal history, but are often subject to discrimination due to their Muslim faith and ethnicity. In result, these radicalized youths feel alienated from their societies and develop a hatred for the West in return. Telile discusses the challenges Somali youth face in creating their identities in the U.S., the sense of isolation many Somali-Americans feel, and how these sentiments contribute to radical Somali nationalism that drives support for Al-Shabaab in the U.S. From this research, Telile concludes that Somali nationalism and a need for identity, more than religious fanaticism, leads Somali youth to participate in terrorist groups. In order to prevent radicalization, Telile recommends the U.S. government gain a broader understanding of the culture of Somali youth and the challenges they face in the U.S., and to develop leadership opportunities for Somali youth to serve as agents of peace through community organizing. These initiatives could give Somali youth motivation to be involved in the development of their country and a sense of identity and purpose in their lives that they so greatly need to avoid radicalization.