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US should focus on terrorists at home

As the U.S.’s war on terror continues, some are beginning to consider a new strategy.

While some favor increasing troops in Afghanistan, Vice President Joe Biden advised President Barack Obama to scale back troops and focus on the al-Qaida stronghold along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, according to the New York Times.

Going after terrorists should be a higher priority than winning the war in Afghanistan. It arguably cannot be won, and the U.S. military can’t force peace. It rests in the hands of the Afghan people.

While Afghanistan should not be abandoned completely, it is clear that a new strategy is needed to stop terror networks, as recruitment seems to be spreading around the world – even into the U.S.

At least 20 men from Minnesota have been recruited by al-Shabab, a terrorist group in Somalia with ties to al-Qaida, according to the Associated Press.

Men in this community were raised with an American education but somehow were recruited by al-Shabab and returned to Somalia to fight. According to the AP, three have pleaded guilty to terror-related charges, and at least three others died in Somalia.

Somalia has been ravaged by war for decades and has become home to pirates, guerrilla fighters and terrorists. Many Somalis have immigrated to the U.S., and there is a large population in the Minneapolis area.

The first known American suicide bomber was Shirwa Ahmed, who died last year. Some fear that giving up on Afghanistan would just give terrorist groups fodder for recruitment. Yet what matters more is whether these groups’ efforts can reach the U.S.

It should be easy for the government to prevent its citizens from joining terrorist groups. If the U.S. can’t win the hearts and minds of Afghans, they should at least try to win those of Americans.

Somali men in Minnesota may not be aware of what they are getting into when they join al-Shabab.

Though he has little power at home, the Somali president has gone to denounce terrorism recruitment in Minnesota. President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed said to the AP on Sunday that the Somali government would work with the U.S. to stop recruitment.

“We believe this is a wrong action, that these young men were wronged, they were robbed out of their life. Their parents were wronged,” President Ahmed said to the AP. “The laws of the United States were violated. The security of Somalia was violated. So we condemn (them) without reservation.”

Americans who sympathize with the plight of countries like Somalia must learn how to show their support without promoting terrorism.

American terrorists can do damage abroad, and stopping this threat should be Obama’s focus. FBI Director Robert Mueller said to the Senate Homeland Security Committee during a hearing Wednesday that al-Shabab could send recruits back to the U.S.

“I would think that we have seen some information that the leaders would like to undertake operations outside of Somalia,” Mueller said.

He was concerned that U.S. citizens could go to Africa, train as terrorists and then return legally to carry out terrorist attacks.

It is clear that the U.S. must develop a strong domestic as well as foreign policy to combat terrorism.

Michael Hardcastle is a sophomore majoring in creative writing and mass communications.