The expected visit of an Ethiopian government official in Minneapolis this weekend has raised concerns from human rights groups.
Abdi Mohamud Omar is president of the Ogaden, a region of Ethiopia home to many ethnic Somalis.
Huda Yusuf heads the African Human Rights Monitor, based in Alexandria, Virginia. She says Omar has a track record of torturing and killing civilians, and that he is visiting East African communities in the diaspora to intimidate them.
"For the residents in Minneapolis and North America who escaped his terror, he's following them to the United States and following them to Europe, and he's trying to terrorize them as well," Yusuf said. "This is a tragedy, this is just him trying to shut people up, even if they're in a free country."
Yusuf said Omar's critics may be free to challenge him, but their family members could face retribution in Ethiopia.
Some Somali-Americans were planning to protest Omar's arrival.
Ogaden native Abdi Mohamed of Minneapolis said efforts by local Somali activists to block the regional president's visit failed. Mohamed said some of his peers are planning to hold a demonstration Sunday outside the Minneapolis hotel where Omar is believed to be staying.
"What they want to make sure is that he understands people out here know of what he's doing back home, know of his human rights violations," Mohamed said. "And number two, that Minnesota politicians, and the U.S. politicians, are not part of that whole scheme, so they don't give credibility to someone who's committing human-rights violations."
But Mohamed said the U.S. State Department was unable to confirm Omar's visit.
Other Somalis in Minnesota support Omar and plan to welcome him to the state.