Somalis have a tradition of volunteerism, he said, and are leery of giving money to charity. They were also suspicious of the fact that the solicitors did all of their business in cash, giving the community no way to verify where the money went.
Bihi, who has lived in Minneapolis since 1996, told the FBI that for years, Somalis were intimidated into silence about jihadist fundraising in local mosques. The questionable activity has been taking place since 2003, he said, so it predates the rise of al-Shabaab and the Islamic Courts Union, which dominated the Somali government in 2006.
The leadership at the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque in Minneapolis bears much of the blame for stifling would-be whistleblowers, Bihi said, because they ridiculed and discredited anyone who questioned fundraising practices there. The mosque leadership and its allies would talk to mainstream media outlets in the United States and appear on television in Somalia to accuse community members of lying when they raised the issue. They would also falsely accuse those speaking out of being "anti-Islam," he said.
Mosque leaders also tried to discourage parents from speaking out when young Somalis began disappearing in 2007 - warning that if they talked to the FBI, their children will be incarcerated at a detention facility like Guantanamo Bay. Bihi singled out the local CAIR chapter for criticism, after the group discouraged families from cooperating with law enforcement.