A seventh Minnesota man is believed dead after possibly joining Islamic insurgents in Somalia.
Some Twin Cities Somali-Americans say Abdirashid Omar of Minneapolis died nearly three weeks ago in or near the capital city of Mogadishu. The terrorist group al-Shabab was locked in heavy gunfire at the time with African peacekeepers.
But just as in previously reported deaths of American fighters in Somalia, U.S. investigators can't confirm the killing or the identity of the deceased. Special Agent E.K. Wilson of the Minneapolis FBI said his investigators have heard about the death from local community members, but the agency is limited in how it would corroborate it.
"Unfortunately, there is no diplomatic process," he said. "There's no official confirmation mechanism in place that we would expect to receive that sort of notification concerning a U.S. citizen or resident."
The man's body has not been recovered, Wilson said, making DNA or fingerprint testing impossible.
Authorities believe more than 20 Minnesota men have gone to their native Somalia to fight in the insurgency. Many have been charged with helping the hard-line al-Shabab, which controls large portions of the country with a ruthless hand, including suicide bombings and amputations. Seven of the travelers are now believed dead, including Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis, believed to be the first American to carry out a suicide attack overseas.
But little is known about Abdirashid Omar. His name does not appear in charging documents that have been made public as part of the roughly two-year federal investigation, and it's unclear when he may have left for Somalia. The investigation is continuing.
Attempts by MPR News to locate Omar's family were unsuccessful.