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Jihad Recruitment In Minnesota, A Case Study After San Bernardino

The Somali community has solid roots in and around Minneapolis. But young people have increasingly been lured by jihadists.

A group of Somali women wait outside Minneapolis' Federal Courthouse
A group of Somali women wait outside Minneapolis' Federal Courthouse
Gilles Paris

MINNEAPOLIS — Inside, the mix of spices and colorful clothing evoke a taste of Africa. Outside, the snow and cold quickly bring you back to the reality that is the northern United States in December. The Karmell Mall in Minneapolis is one of the first malls founded by Somali residents, who have since found refuge and economic security in successive waves of immigration to the northern U.S. state of Minnesota.

But just a few blocks away, Fartun Weli, a Somali-American who runs a local women's support association, is looking down at the latest news updates on her smartphone from another, more immediate reality: the shock brought on by the deadly shooting this month in San Bernardino, California, carried out by radicalized Muslims.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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