Abdirizak Bihi paces the courtyard of Riverside Plaza in Minneapolis, awaiting his children's arrival from school.
Dirt blows freely down Cedar Avenue as piss-colored newspapers dance in the wind. In the shade of a tree stand a slouching man and a woman with cavernous eyes, locked in stormy debate.
The woman wags a finger and stomps the ground, her leathery voice scaring the pigeons. The man, known in the neighborhood as Salid, named for a Somali village so small that you won't find it on a map, responds to her anger with a bemused smile that creeps across his pudgy face.
To an outsider, their words are indecipherable. Except two: al-Shabab. It's regarded as a terrorist organization by the West, an al-Qaeda ally engaged in combat against the Somali government and African Union soldiers. When translated, the phrase literally means "the youth," a rather innocent sobriquet for hardline Islamists who kill aid workers, shoot up shopping malls, and bomb United Nations facilities.More »