Abdullahi Yusuf and Ahmed Amin find their paths intertwined, drawn into an intensifying global terrorism fight through an unusual new experiment to see if radicalized Somali-American youths can be talked off the path of violence and extremism, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They have known each other barely a month, but their lives are linked by a shared story: the struggle to find a new identity in a new land. Yusuf is a quiet, lanky Somali-American teen from Minneapolis, arrested by the FBI last fall and accused of trying to join a brutal terrorist group in the Middle East.
Amin is a Somali-American schoolteacher who came to the U.S. when he was 12 without a hint of English on his tongue. He teaches historyin Minneapolis, where he's the coach of a scrappy debate team and an eloquent instructor who shows his students the power of words to change minds. Amin and a team of religious scholars and teachers pulled together by Heartland Democracy, a nonprofit serving at-risk youths, have been assigned by a federal judge to mentor Yusuf, an 18-year-old who, like the six young men arrested on conspiracy charges last week, stands accused of trying to leave the U.S. to be a terrorist. U.S. District Chief Judge Michael Davis diverted Yusuf to the Heartland project in what is thought to be a first for the federal court system in a terror case.