Minneapolis Somali man using cartoons to counter ISIS recruitment

Mohamed Ahmed
Mohamed Ahmed, producer of cartoons at Average Mohamed, at MPR Nov. 7, 2014.
Tom Weber / MPR Photo

The U.S. Department of Justice this fall selected the Twin Cities as one of three locations that will test out a pilot program aimed to beat back violent extremism.

But one local Somali man is taking efforts into his own hands.

Mohamed Ahmed said he was frustrated with the lack of response to propaganda from extremist videos, so he has been producing cartoons at Average Mohamed aimed at young Muslims who could be recruited by ISIS.

The FBI says about a dozen young people have traveled from Minnesota to Syria to join radical groups there.

The videos, aimed at ages 8 to 16, often directly respond to videos already online.

"We take the ideology piece by piece, value for value, and we create that counter-narrative," he said on The Daily Circuit. "That counter-narrative is meant to question, challenge and agitate minds into not accepting what has been told in the propaganda videos that these organizations of extremism keep on creating."

Ahmed said he's taking the videos to mosques, community youth organizations and even families dealing with a family member joining an extremist group. He said it's important to reach the siblings in this moment to help them understand other ways to look at their religious beliefs.

Using words from the Quran, Ahmed says he uses his place as a "regular guy" to advocate for peace and explain why he believes suicide bombers go to hell.

Average Mohamed videos:

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