Shirwa's journey


Shirwa Ahmed's family comes to the United States. He is 12 or 13 years old. They first come to Portland, Ore., then to Minneapolis.


He's a sophomore at Minneapolis Roosevelt High School. Mohammed Osman taught Ahmed. "He was very ordinary. ... He was not violent, a very decent character. He was unremarkable."


He graduates from high school. He goes to prom with Nicole Hartford. He dances and he was a little awkward at it but he kept the rhythm, Nicole said. When the photographer asked him to put his arms around Nicole's waist, Shirwa demurred. "I kept saying 'It's OK, Shirwa,' " Nicole said.


He attends classes at North Hennepin Community College. He does not earn a certificate or degree. Friends say he is becoming more religious.


He enrolls at the University of Minnesota's College of Continuing Education. He lasts one semester.


Nicole Hartford talks to Ahmed less, and eventually loses contact with him. The last time she saw him, she said: "He hugged me. It was a long hug. ... There was some pain in him that he wasn't ready to speak about at that time."


He attends Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Again, he does not earn a certificate or degree. Family and friends say he spends early mornings and even overnights at the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque.


He leaves the country in the fall. His sister said that Ahmed told the family he was going to the hajj in Saudi Arabia. He later calls to tell her he is studying in Yemen.

OCT. 29, 2008

Ahmed dies in Puntland in northern Somalia in a suicide attack.


The FBI helps the family return the remains of Ahmed to the U.S.

DEC. 3, 2008

He is buried in a Burnsville cemetery.