The suspected involvement of a Norwegian in last month’s Nairobi mall bloodbath has given the attack a Scandinavian twist. It has brought to the international spotlight the role of Scandinavia’s large Somali diaspora, which is believed to have supplied dozens of fighters to the terror group in recent years. The BBC said that one member of the Westgate mall commando caught by the security cameras was Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a 23-year-old Norwegian citizen who emigrated from Somalia as a child in 1999. The mall massacre, which lasted four days, left 67 people dead and 23 missing.
The role of an expatriate Somali in the Kenya attack speaks of the internationalization of Al Shabaab brand of terrorism. It shows that the extremist group has been able to attract Somalis from Europe towards its cause, and these ‘Europeans’ bring with them the talent and expertise gained through their expatriate life. According to reports, between 20 and 30 people have departed from Norway to join Al Shabaab and some of them are holding leadership roles. And Scandinavian countries are home to Europe’s largest Somali population after Britain and in that sense it’s not particularly surprising that the Westgate investigation should lead to Norway. Some 33,000 people with Somali origin or citizenship currently reside in Norway.
Somalis in Europe are more educated and enjoy a standard of living which their countrymen back home can’t even dream of and this prosperity must be owed to European countries which have provided them equal opportunities. For this reason, joining Al Shabaab will be equivalent to declaring a war against their host countries, which Somalis must refrain from. Also, for Somalis and other all immigrants in Norway, where the far-right movement is gathering momentum, this will pose serious problems. The involvement of a Norwegian Somali in the Kenya attack will force the Norwegian government to crack down on Somalis. Two days after the populist rightwing Progress party entered the Norwegian government, it is already facing its first test of how to handle controversial immigration issues now it has power and responsibility. Compared to other European countries, anti-immigrant feelings aren’t so strong in Norway, but the country recently has witnessed an increase in the popularity of the right Progress party.
This is not the first incident of a Somali joining Al Shabaab and carrying out attacks. The most famous case in Norway so far was that of a young man who was enrolled in the Al Shabaab just after leaving the prestigious Norwegian Royal Guard. He was later killed in Somalia.
With anti-immigrant sentiment rising in Europe, the involvement of European immigrants in terror activities will only help fan the flames of hatred•