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Transnational Crimes among Somali-Americans: Convergences of Radicalization and Trafficking

The Somali-American diaspora, one of the most disadvantaged refugee and immigrant communities in the U.S., has been the site of both violent radicalization and trafficking in persons. This study aims to build scientific knowledge on the emergence and trajectories of the co-occurrence of radicalization and trafficking in the Somali American community to better understand the transnational and convergence issues involved and how this knowledge can inform evidence-based prevention and intervention programs. The specific aims are: 1)To systematically review all known cases of radicalization and trafficking among Somali-Americans using a case study approach to document and characterize the similarities and differences with respect to multi-level risks, protective resources, criminal justice responses and outcomes, and perceptions of law enforcement efforts; 2)To conduct in-depth interviews with law enforcement personnel, community advocates, parents, and youth in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, and Nashville to establish the similarities and differences with respect to how activities involving radicalization and trafficking emerge, develop and impact the community, any convergence issues between the two crime types, and how they are addressed through prevention or intervention activities; 3) To design specific community practice strategies for prevention and intervention with radicalization and trafficking in community contexts through convening a series of regional and national workshops with practitioners, advocates, policymakers, and academics based on the findings from Aims 1 and 2. Aim 1 will be addressed through case study analytical methods examining all known cases of radicalization and trafficking. Aim 2 will be addressed through individual and group interviews with 40 persons in each of these three communities. Aim 3 will be addressed in convening one meeting in each city to review the research findings and to generate a consensus model and recommendations regarding new community practice approaches for preventing and intervening with radicalization and trafficking. This research will develop community practice strategies for prevention and intervention with radicalization and trafficking in community contexts and will contribute to advancing the state of the field beyond the good language of the policy documents on “preventing radicalization” and “demand reduction” and the best intentions of criminal justice agencies and community organizations.

Funded by the National Institute of Justice

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