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Transnational Crimes Among Somali-Americans: Convergences of Radicalization and Trafficking

NCJ Number
Stevan Weine; Edna Erez; Chloe Polutnik
Date Published
August 2018
75 pages
This study's objective was to provide scientific data on the emergence and trajectories of the co-occurrence of alleged violent extremism and trafficking in persons in Somali-American communities, so as to inform prevention planning.

Data were obtained from public sources on the possible involvement of Somali-Americans in violent extremism and trafficking in persons, as well as ethnographic interviews of young adults, parents, community leaders, and service providers in three American cities that have large Somali communities. These cities are Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee. Law enforcement agents who worked with the Somali-American community in the three cities were interviewed. Recently, there have been investigations, arrests, and trials concerning violent extremism and trafficking in persons that involve some Somali-Americans in those cities. The model developed is based on the data collected from research participants who may have assumed that a violation occurred even though the charges for trafficking in persons were pending and before the alleged defendants were acquitted. The assumption that trafficking in persons is relevant for any U.S. community, including the Somali-American community, is thus deemed tenable by the researchers. The study found that both violent extremism and trafficking in persons apparently involve common and selective risks and practices, which can be explained by a convergent risks and practice model informed by "push-and-pull" theory. Risk factors ("push") and protective factors ("pull") are reported for violent extremism and trafficking in persons. The report recommends building effective and sustainable prevention programming, strengthening law enforcement and community relations, increasing programs based on community needs, and stopping discriminatory practices. 14 tables and 92 references