The FBI is investigating reports that a suicide bomber who killed two African Union soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia, this week was an American citizen, an FBI spokesman said Thursday.
Days after Monday’s suicide bombing, al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group allied with al Qaeda, posted a statement on its website identifying the suicide bomber responsible for Monday’s bombing as Abdullahi Ahmed, a Somali-American from Minneapolis.
Al-Shabaab also posted a statement and a 20-minute audio clip from the man it identified as the suicide bomber, who spoke in English during part of the recording.
“I have been a member of al-Shabaab for two years. I am from Minnesota, USA,” Abdullahi Ahmed is quoted as saying in the statement. “I am so happy to turn my body into shrapnel for the infidels.”
Omar Jamal, the first secretary to the Somali Mission to the United Nations, said the man speaking on the audio recording brought back a “vivid memory” of his former acquaintance, Abdullahi Ahmed.
“This guy was a young guy, he was a taxi driver in Minneapolis . . . I met him a couple of times, and we debated about the current Somali situation and Jihadist philosophy,” said Jamal, a Minneapolis resident and advocate for the city’s Somali community.
In 2008, a sizable group of young Somali-American men left Minneapolis–home to the nation’s largest Somali population–and were feared recruited by al-Shabaab. Several were reported killed, according to Minneapolis community leaders.
The family of one, Jamal Bana, 20, told CNN in 2009 that they learned of his death via the Internet. Another one, Shirwa Ahmed, 27, blew himself up and killed 29 others in the fall of 2008 in what was believed to be the first suicide bombing carried out by a naturalized U.S. citizen. The incident raised red flags throughout the U.S. intelligence community.
Al-Shabaab has been waging a war against Somalia’s government in an effort to implement a stricter form of Islamic law, or sharia law. Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991, and fighting between the rebels and government troops has added to the impoverished East African nation’s humanitarian crisis.