Counter-Terrorism: The Boys From Minnesota


March 6, 2009: The U.S. identified the remains of a suicide bomber who committed an attack in Somalia last October, and returned the remains to his family in Minnesota last December. The bomber, 27 year old Shirwa Ahmed, was an naturalized American citizen of Somali origin. It's believed that 10-20 other young Somali men have gone back to Somalia to fight with Islamic radicals in the last year or so. The FBI has been investigating this situation for nearly a year, and so far have not released their findings. This is understandable, as it is an ongoing investigation, and the FBI doesn't want to jeopardize the sources it has, or reveal how close it is to identifying and building a case against those who recruited and paid for the missing Somali-Americans to go fight for Islamic radicals in Somalia. 

Suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed migrated to Minneapolis with his family in the 1990s. There are 15,000 Somalis, mostly recent migrants, in the Minneapolis area. Somalis claim there are many more, up to 80,000, but this would imply a large number of illegal migrants, and there is little evidence of this. The young men have the usual problems of recent arrivals from a Third World country. Many have a hard time adapting, and some join Somali street gangs. These gangs largely preyed on fellow Somalis, although there were increasing attacks on non-Somalis.

It was hoped that family ties would help maintain order in the Somali community. But then the State Department began DNA testing of family members allowed to migrate to the United States, and found that 80 percent were not family, but participants in a scam whereby they paid up to $10,000 to have a Somali already in the U.S. claim them as a family member so they could enter legally.

The Somali community in Minneapolis is a mixed lot. Some are college educated professionals who left before the government disappeared in 1991. Most, however, are poorly educated, often illiterate, Somalis who fled the violence that has beset the country since 1991. And many of these got in illegally via the false family member scam. A number of the Somali migrants are Islamic conservatives, and some of these are believed to be the key people in the Islamic terrorist recruiting operation. This sort of recruiting goes on in Moslem migrant communities throughout the world. What worries the FBI the most is that if some of these missing Somalis are given terrorist training overseas, and then return to the United States.


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