Nov 26, 2008 6:49 pm US/Central
Esme Murphy (WCCO) An investigation into terrorism recruiting among young Somalis leads to Minnesota. Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis is believed to have killed himself in a suicide bombing in Somalia last month. However, investigators fear he may have left a deadly legacy of recruiting other young Somalis to leave Minnesota and join terrorist groups in Somalia.
His high school pictures show a clean cut young man and neighbors at his Minneapolis apartment say lately 26-year-old Shirwa Ahmed had a thick beard.
"He doesn't talk to people," one neighbor said.
The neighbor added he is stunned that Shirwa Ahmed was apparently killed after returning to Somalia and blowing himself up in a suicide attack. No one answered the door at Ahmed's family's apartment. Neighbors say the FBI has been interviewing family and friends.
In recent months a dozen young Somalis, some as young as 17, have left the Twin Cities, apparently headed back to Somalia where a civil war rages.
Omar Jamal, a local Somali activist, said the families of the young men are frightened.
"The families didn't think, it never crossed their mind, that their kids would have gone to Somalia either to blow themselves up or to join the holy war," said Jamal.
Sources tell WCCO the group suspected of recruiting the young Twin Cities men is know as al-Itihadd al-Islamiya, or AIAI, an organization with known ties to Al-Qaeda.
Mark Canjemi is an immigration attorney who is the former agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Administration in Minnesota.
"AIAI has been known in this community through intelligence interviews conducted by the government," said Canjemi.
Canjemi said the Twin Cities Somali community has been a ripe recruiting ground for AIAI for years.
"I believe this recruiting continues on a daily basis," he said.
According to national reports Al Qaeda is enjoying resurgence in Somalia. The FBI said the U.S. government continues to be involved in an active outreach to young Somalis to keep them from being courted by radical groups.
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