Posted on November 30, 2004

Attorneys: Shooting Of Somali Tied To Drug

AP, Nov. 30

MINNEAPOLIS — Five men were charged Monday in the shooting death of a woman in downtown Minneapolis, a killing prosecutors said was the state’s first related to khat, an illegal drug.

Yasmin Ali Geele, 32, a Somali immigrant, was found dead in her apartment Nov. 9. She had been shot in the head during an attempted robbery, prosecutors said.

According to the criminal complaint, Geele’s apartment was being used to sell khat the night she was killed. Khat is a leaf grown mainly in Kenya and chewed in parts of East Africa and the Mideast and in some immigrant communities in the United States for its stimulating effect.

“This is the first khat-related murder we have seen and people in the Somali community are very concerned this could escalate,” Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said.

The complaint alleges that Ismail Mohamed Ali, 20, of Minneapolis, shot Geele before she could surrender the khat or money, but all five defendants were charged with second-degree murder because they participated in the attempted robbery that led to the shooting, Klobuchar said.

All five defendants were in custody Monday with bail set at $1 million each. They were due to make their first court appearances today. The state’s sentencing guidelines recommend 25 years in prison for second-degree murder.

Hennepin County handles about 30 khat cases a year, mostly for possession, Klobuchar said.