The head of the Minneapolis division of the FBI says the new terrorist threat to the U.S. is coming from what he calls "self-directed groups" that are inspired by al-Qaida but are not strongly connected to it.
Special Agent in Charge Ralph Boelter discussed domestic extremism Wednesday on MPR's "Midmorning" program. Boelter noted examples of Americans traveling overseas to seek al-Qaida training.
The FBI is leading the investigation into about 20 Somali-American men from Minnesota who allegedly enlisted with the insurgent group al-Shabaab in their homeland, but Boelter gave few details about the case.
"I will say that al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group that's active in Somalia, did not dispatch people to the United States to actually recruit on the ground here," Boelter said. "But beyond that, I will not touch the topic of motive."
Boelter declined to say whether more arrests in the Minnesota case are expected, but said he believes his agents have a full understanding of how and why the young men left for Somalia.
Court documents filed so far in the case say young men from the Twin Cities began to organize secret meetings in late 2007 to travel to Somalia and fight the Ethiopian military occupation.
A mastermind behind the departures has yet to emerge in the case, although federal authorities believe some individuals played a larger role than others.
The government has charged 14 people so far as a result of the massive investigation, which began more than a year ago.