Somali bomber's Minnesota ties still unclear

Peacekeepers in Somalia
African Union peacekeepers cross a road during clashes with Islamist insurgents in southern Mogadishu's Bakara market neighborhood on Friday, May 27, 2011.
Farah Abdi Warsameh/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The FBI is still trying to confirm the identity of a Somali man said to be from Minnesota who died in an attack on African Union troops Monday in Mogadishu.

The rebel group al-Shabab, considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government, said the bomber was from Minnesota.

Audio is circulating on a Somali website that purports to interview the alleged suicide bomber before his attack on the African Union base in Mogadishu that killed two African Union troops and one government soldier.

The website identifies the bomber as Abdullahi Ahmed, 25, from Minnesota. The man in the recording says he has been fighting in Somalia since 2009.

Ahmed said in Somali, "God has chosen for me this job... It's a very important job. I would use my life to defend my religion and fight with the Christians and their puppets."

The man also spoke in very clear English at one point, calling on his brothers and sisters in the West to join jihad.

The FBI has been investigating cases of at least 20 men who left Minnesota to fight in Somalia, but this particular name isn't familiar to sources reached by MPR News.

The first known case of a naturalized American citizen carrying out a suicide attack occurred in 2008, when Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis blew himself up in Somalia in 2008. Another attack occurred in 2009, carried out by a Somali man from Seattle.

A FAILED MISSION?

In Mogadishu, Abdisalam Aato, operations manager for Somali National TV, has been trying to piece together what happened with Abdullahi Ahmed as well.

Aato says the interview circulating on the website was something al-Shabab broadcast on the radio as a sort of farewell message. He also described a kind of reality radio broadcast of the attack itself, recorded over Ahmed's cellphone.

"He was telling them, 'I'm at the place, I'm fighting, I'm firing,' and he said, 'I've killed three guys already, I'm stepping over a dead guy. All of a sudden I got shot,'" said Aato. "You could hear his heavy breathing as he was about to die. He was dying at that moment."

Aato says according to the information he gathered from the African Union, it was actually a failed mission because Ahmed was apparently shot before he could detonate his explosives.

He also said photographs that were taken at the scene of the attack might help people recognize the man.

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(MPR News intern Mukhtar Ibrahim contributed to this report)

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