The Ka Joog nonprofit run by young Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities will receive a community leadership award today from the Minneapolis office of the FBI.
The organization takes its name from the Somali phrase meaning "stay away" -- a message to encourage young people to avoid drugs, violence, and extremist ideology. The group is made up of nine young adults, all Somali-Americans in their 20s.
Abdul Mohamed is one of them. The Augsburg College student says Ka Joog is different from other Somali youth organizations because its members can relate to the people they're seeking to help.
"We can put ourselves in their shoes, and we can understand the issues they're going through because we're often going through those issues as well," he said. "Whether it be issues with the family and the generational gap, or whether it be the issues of education and finding out what path you want to take in life and how you want to contribute to your society."
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Ka Joog, whose members are Muslim, has also met regularly with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office. A federal trial exposing new details into the radicalization of al-Shabab fighters from Minnesota concluded last week.
Kyle Loven of the FBI says it's important to recognize groups like Ka Joog.
"Given the nature of what's happened in the Somali community with the travelers traveling to East Africa, we have alternative positive voices here who obviously don't support that," he said. "When the FBI sees these efforts being made, we want to do everything we can to support those efforts."
The FBI says Ka Joog has helped nurture Minneapolis youth through its focus on education and dialogue.
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