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Alleged Convergent Transnational Crimes in Somali-American Communities: A Qualitative Study of Risks and Practices

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2018
3 pages
This summary report outlines the findings, implications, and methodology of a study of risk and protective factors related to alleged violent extremism and trafficking in persons in Somali-American communities in the United States.
This was a 3-year study that involved a review of public sources on the possible involvement of Somali-Americans in violent extremism and trafficking in persons. Ethnographic interviews were conducted with Somali-American young adults (n=39), parents (n=21), community leaders and service providers (n=30), and criminal justice practitioners (n=26) in three American cities with Somali communities: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee. Qualitative data analyses were conducted, using Atlas/ti software and a grounded theory approach. The analyses indicate that transnational crimes such as violent extremism and trafficking in persons both involve common and selective risks and practices, which can be explained with a convergent risk and practices model informed by "push-and-pull" theory. Regarding violent extremism, the model describes selective "push" factors that include male identity and superiority; grievances against Somalis and Muslims; beliefs that the threat of violent extremism is negligible; stereotyping of Somalis and Muslims; and media stigmatization. Selective "pull" factors include Internet use and exposure; empowerment; extremist ideology; organizations that promote violent extremism; and social media. Regarding alleged trafficking in persons, the model describes selective "push" factors that include female inequality and lack of protection for female victims. Selective "pull" factors include financial rewards; criminal history and records; sex industry and persons who want to buy sex; and drug and alcohol procurement and use. The negative convergence of risks and practices occurs when the community and/or law enforcement practices combine to contribute to negative outcomes. This report recommends programs and policies that can replace the negative convergent practices identified. 1 figure

Date Published: August 1, 2018