Shirwa Ahmed blew himself up last month, in a suicide bombing in northern Somalia. Ordinarily, such an event would attract little attention. In Somalia, where Al Qaeda has long sought an operational base, such events are not uncommon.
But Ahmed was a naturalized U.S. citizen who spent years in the Twin Cities before returning to his native land. And, more ominously, dozens of Somalis still in Minnesota have disappeared since Shirwa Ahmed launched his suicide attack. KSTP-TV in Minneapolis reports that federal authorities are now trying to determine if Ahmed was part of a terrorist recruiting network in this country:
More than a dozen young men of Somali descent, mostly in their 20s, from the Minneapolis area have recently disappeared, U.S. law enforcement officials tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. All are thought to be associates of Ahmed. U.S. officials suspect most of the young men have departed for Somalia to fight in ongoing violence there or to train in terrorist camps. Family members of the young men are said to be distraught, trying to figure to out what happened to them, sources say.
So far, the investigation has not uncovered credible evidence of a plot targeting the U.S. but American officials want to track down all these young men before they can say for certain what this is or is not, according to ABC News. Sources say the situation is being closely monitored by senior law enforcement and intelligence officials in Washington.
CIA Director Michael Hayden recently voiced his concern about increased fighting in Somalia and the Horn of Africa and the desire of Al Qaeda to strengthen it's ties in Somalia.
According to General Hayden, the terrorist group is trying to rebuild its operational network in Somalia, two years after an Ethiopian-led invasion that crippled Al Qaeda's local operations.
Now, the question is whether that rebuilding effort extends to the U.S. homeland.
ADDENDUM: Another Minneapolis TV station, KMSP, estimates that at least 20 Somali men have left the Twin Cities in recent months. The "missing" men are believed to have retured to their homeland to participate in the Somali civil war, in which Al Qaida is a key player.