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HBO's The Recruiters, set in Minnesota, will tell story of Somali radicalization

Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan is set to write and direct the HBO show, and Kathryn Bigelow will executive produce it.

Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan is set to write and direct the HBO show, and Kathryn Bigelow will executive produce it.

Many Somali-Americans reside in Minnesota, though an exact number is anyone's guess. The figure is easily in the tens of thousands, and continues to grow, as more Somalis leave that impoverished, war-ravaged land to come to "Little Mogadishu," while others who have arrived elsewhere in the United States relocate to the Twin Cities to be close to family members who live here already. 

Of those, at least a dozen have been accused of leaving Minnesota to join ISIS, fighting in Syria. (Nine have faced federal charges for their crimes, and three have pleaded guilty, the Star Tribune reports; two others are presumed dead, while one is still at large.) At least two dozen are said to have left Minnesota to join al-Shabab, a small but powerful extremist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, which has sown seeds of unrest in Somalia since 2006. 

The story's inherently dramatic, and continues to play out on front pages of newspapers. Now it's coming to the small screen, and big names are attached to the production. 

Two-time Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow, director of Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, has signed on as a partner on The Recruiters, a prospective show that would be set in Minnesota, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A release about the project states that the show intends to "draw open an iron curtain behind which viewers will see the highly impenetrable world of Jihadi recruitment."

Bigelow has previously worked with HBO on a series that never filmed a pilot. That's not likely to happen this time around given her executive producing partner: Carolyn Strauss, former president of HBO, who was involved in Sex and the City and the The Sopranos during her time with the network, and has since helped get Treme and Game of Thrones on the air with HBO.

The writer-director is a rookie to the TV game, but hardly an entertainment newbie. K'naan, the Somali-Canadian rapper and poet, is the brains and vision behind the project. K'naan (real name Keinan Abdi Warsame) is probably best known in the States, if at all, for recording the feel-good theme song for the 2010 World Cup, called "Wavin' Flag." Since then, he's penned a couple well-received op-ed pieces in the New York Times, including one on waking the echoes of tragedy by returning to his homeland after a long absence. 

Last week, he tweeted a casting call for Toronto-area actors who want to audition for the lead role of a "Somali man, 17-25 years old." Hmmm. Where else could he find one of those? 
— K'naan Warsame (@KNAAN) December 11, 2015