In Minnesota's Somali community, dismay and doubts about bomber

Terror group says suicide bomber was from Minnesota, but with no firm identification, conflicting theories and confusion swirled.

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Dahir Jibreel, head of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, talked about Thursday’s news.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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This week's claims by a terrorist group in Somalia that a suicide bomber was a Somali-American from Minnesota elicited strong emotions in the Twin Cities Somali community on Friday.

Confusion over the man's identity. Dismay and weariness over the continuing story. And some denial.

As was the case nearly three years ago when a Minneapolis man became the first known American suicide bomber, people here were shocked by Al-Shabab's online statement that a recent suicide bombing attack in Mogadishu was carried out by Abdullahi Ahmed, 25, of Minnesota.

FBI officials have not confirmed that a Minnesotan was behind Monday's attack, which killed at least four people, including the bomber.

With no official word about his identity, confusion over who the man was ran rampant Friday.

Several competing theories were spreading throughout the community.

One theory, backed by a well-connected source, said the bomber was in fact a Minnesotan who had an extensive criminal record before turning to religion. The source also said the man was part of a group that traveled to Mexico in October 2009 and was stopped by a Nevada trooper en route. But the source said the man was not Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, suspected by authorities to be a key recruiter for Al-Shabab, as was reported by several media outlets.

According to several sources who say they know Faarax and who listened to an audio clip that was reportedly from an interview with the bomber, the voice is not Faarax's.

The conflicting theories underscore the confusion that has often followed the release of names of people charged or killed in connection with a years-long FBI investigation into the recruitment and travels of more than 20 young Somali-American men to Somalia to fight in the civil war.

U.S. officials have designated Al-Shabab as a terrorist group with ties to Al-Qaida.

Special Agent Steve Warfield, a local FBI spokesman, said there is no way at this time for officials to know the bomber's identity or whether he was a Minnesotan.

"We just don't know, and it's possible we'll never know," Warfield said. "In a perfect world, we'll get a call saying there is conclusive DNA evidence confirming who that person was. I can say that day isn't imminent."

Much like in the case of Shirwa Ahmed, the first suicide bomber whose death nearly three years ago the FBI confirmed, many in the Somali community seemed less concerned about learning the bomber's identity than having the story simply disappear.

For some, the possibility that another bomber was from Minnesota threatens to damage the image of the local Somali community -- the nation's largest.

"This community, they don't want this story to come true," said Dahir Jibreel, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center. "They want this story to go away."

ashah@startribune.com • 612-673-4488 jwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-7428

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