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Guest Thinkers

Across the Gulf

Just days after al-Zawahiri’s audiotape “From Kabul to Somalia” was released the fighting in the latter has picked up. The NY Times has coverage here, and Reuters has more coverage here.

I was also struck by this report yesterday in the NY Times, which opens: The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, said Monday that a Somali-American man who was one of several suicide bombers in a terrorist attack last October in Somalia had apparently been indoctrinated into his extremist beliefs while living in the United States.

The man, Shirwa Ahmed, was the first known suicide bomber with American citizenship. He immigrated with his family to the Minneapolis area in the mid-1990s, Mr. Mueller said, but he returned to Somalia after he was recruited by a militant group.

“It appears that this individual was radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota,” Mr. Mueller said, speaking at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. Minneapolis claims the country’s largest Somali population.

A good friend of mine has been doing extensive research in and among the Somali population of Minnesota area over the past year, and there are a number of issues that should concern law enforcement. I also had a chance to speak to one of the local leaders when he came through New Jersey a few months ago, and what he told me appears to be true according to this latest report.

Of concern for Yemen watchers is whether some of the al-Qaeda militants are going to make their way to Somalia to participate in the fighting. This has been an issue of importance in Sada al-Malahim, and previous fighters such as Mansur al-Bayhani (one of the 23 escapees) fought in Somalia, although he was killed by the US back in June 2007.

Ibrahim al-Muqri, another of the 23 escapees, also attempted to fight in Somalia. He was just released from a Yemeni prison days ago, after being transferred back from Kenyan custody.


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