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"It was more in line with the new face of Al-Shabab. ... asking them to act where they are is a new thing," said Abdirizak Bihi, who has listened to the interview more than 30 times.

Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Abdisalan Hussein Ali

Courtesy of FBI,

Bomber urged Muslims to ‘do jihad in America’

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH
  • Star Tribune
  • November 1, 2011 - 1:30 PM

Whether or not the suicide bomber who killed at least 10 people this past weekend in Somalia is from Minnesota, he left a farewell message sure to chill American listeners.

Speaking in English in a taped message broadcast over the Internet, the voice urged other young Muslims to "do jihad in America, do jihad in Canada, do jihad in England, anywhere in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in China, in Australia.

"Anywhere you find [unbelievers]," the voice continued, "fight them and be firm against them."

On Monday, the bomber's identity remained a mystery, despite reports from some in Minnesota's Somali community who say they recognize the voice as that of a Minneapolis college student who left in November 2008 to fight in Somalia.

Others who know that man well -- Abdisalan Hussein Ali -- and listened to the recording insist that it is not him.

FBI officials said Monday they are conducting a DNA analysis of the bomber's remains to determine his identity.

"We're obviously aware of the incident, and right now the FBI is in the process of doing a DNA analysis," said Kyle Loven, the FBI's chief division counsel in Minneapolis. Results are expected within weeks, Loven said.

Some observers say the message -- posted online by the terrorist group Al-Shabab after a multi-pronged bombing attack Saturday at an African Union base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu -- marks the first time the group has issued a call to launch attacks in the West.

However, others saw the message as an act of desperation from a movement that is losing its appeal.

To date, the FBI has confirmed that two suicide bombers in Somalia came from Minnesota.

Shirwa Ahmed of Minneapolis became the first known American suicide bomber in October 2008. Using DNA and fingerprints, the FBI also confirmed that Farah Mohamed Beledi, also of the Twin Cities, wore an explosives-laden vest and participated in a June 2011 attack on an African Union base in Somalia.

In the case of Beledi, there also were early reports swirling in the Twin Cities' Somali community and in some local media that the bomber was someone else. Within days, the correct name and photo was confirmed by Beledi's relatives and by the FBI.

Said Special Agent E.K. Wilson of the FBI's Minneapolis office: "Anytime we have one of these, or an incident like this, there's a ton of information flowing back and forth. Rumors kind of run rampant. And locally there's information back and forth from overseas. You just have to be very careful to weed through all of that volume of information and try to figure out what's accurate."

'New face of Al-Shabab'

On Monday, a Somali woman who answered the door at a northeast Minneapolis apartment listed as the address of the mother of Abdisalan Hussein Ali declined to talk to a reporter.

The website Somalimemo.net posted the tape, saying the bomber, whom Al-Shabab identified as Somali-American Abdisalan Taqabalahullaah, emigrated to the United States when he was 2.

Abdirizak Bihi listened to the recording, said to be the bomber's last interview, more than 30 times.

With each time he listened, he grew more worried.

"It was more in line with the new face of Al-Shabab," said Bihi, whose nephew was among the more than 20 young Somali-American men from Minnesota believed to have been recruited to fight for Al-Shabab in Somalia's civil war. "This guy was more about the youth here."

In other recordings, Al-Shabab members call on youth to come to Somalia to fight. But in the latest message, the speaker encourages them to act against non-believers wherever they live, Bihi said.

"Asking them to act where they are is a new thing," he said.

Martyrdom videos or recordings commonly have a call-to-arms theme, Wilson said, and preventing a possible attack on U.S. soil is uppermost in the agency's mind.

To date, there has been no evidence of a credible threat to the United States from Al-Shabab.

"It is something that we have not seen operationally from Al-Shabab, but it is something that we've always been aware of and considered a possibility," Wilson said.

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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