U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger asked Somali-Americans Saturday to trust him as he works to improve conditions in their community that might help prevent young people from being radicalized.
A town hall meeting at the Phillips Community Center in south Minneapolis was the first between Luger and the Somali community since federal authorities charged six men with trying to join ISIS in Syria.
Luger received a generally polite but sometimes testy reception at the forum. But many Somalis are concerned about entrapment in light of the government's use of a paid informant in its investigation.
Increased investment in programs for Somali youth, Luger said, is critical to curbing the appeal of terrorist groups.
A program to combat extremist recruitment that focuses on expanded social services in the Somali community was developed under Luger's leadership.
"We're going to start to turn this around when every Somali teen has access to safe space, higher education, to jobs, to job training," he said.
Despite Luger's pledge, many Somalis find it hard to trust law enforcement agencies, given their experience in their homeland and concerns about FBI conduct here, meeting participant Kamal Hassan said.
"We don't trust you," Hassan told Luger. "That's why we don't consider you as partners. We need the money. But we don't want you dishing out the money."
Luger defended the FBI. "We don't set people up," he said.
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