Divided Loyalties: Young Somali Americans and the Lure of Extremism

Today on the show, we’re joined by Joseph Weber to discuss his book, Divided Loyalties: Young Somali Americans and the Lure of Extremism.

In Divided Loyalties: Young Somali Americans and the Lure of Extremism, Joseph Weber examines the cases of the more than fifty Somali Americans, mostly young men from Minnesota, who made their way to Somalia or Syria, attempted to get to those countries, aided people who did, or financially backed terrorist groups there. Throughout the book, Weber asks why people join violent extremist movements like al-Shabab, al-Qaida, and the Islamic State when so many of those who do end up dead, missing, or imprisoned.

The book also considers those who rejected the temptations of terrorism with a close look at one man from Minneapolis, the American-born son of a couple who fled Somalia, who came dangerously close to answering the ISIS call. From 2014 to 2016, Abdirahman Abdirashid Bashir and a dozen friends—some still in their teens—schemed to find ways to join Bashir’s other friends and cousins with ISIS in Syria. Some succeeded. In the end, Bashir made a different choice. Not only did he reject ISIS’s call, he decided to work with the FBI to spy on his friends and ultimately to testify against them in court. Drawing on extensive interviews for Divided Loyalties, Joseph Weber explains why.

JOE WEBER is the Jerry and Karla Huse Professor of News-Editorial and an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He worked for thirty-five years in daily and weekly journalism, including twenty-two years in several posts across North America for BusinessWeek, departing as the magazine's chief of correspondents.

Divided Loyalties: Young Somali Americans and the Lure of Extremism, is available at msupress.org and other fine booksellers. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on Twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.

The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to the team at MSU Press for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo. 

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