The making of a Minnesota suicide bomber..

shirwa ahmed

Halkaan ka akhri 

The making of a Minnesota suicide bomber

He was once a shy young man who liked basketball, hip-hop and girls. Years later he drove a truck full of explosives into a crowd in Somalia, leaving only grief and questions behind.

Shirwa Ahmed

His remains lie a few hundred yards from a bustling highway, in a section of the Burnsville cemetery reserved for Muslims called the Garden of Eden. There is no marker. Only dirt and small rocks cover the final resting place of Shirwa Ahmed, who lived most of his life almost as anonymously.

But the manner of the 26-year-old Minneapolis man’s death has put him at the center of one of the most far-reaching U.S. counterterrorism investigations since 9/11.

Nobody knows for sure why Ahmed left Minnesota in late 2007, or how he wound up obliterated in a bomb crater in Somalia a year later. Did the once passive teenager who came of age at Roosevelt High School shooting hoops, wearing hip-hop fashions and hanging out at the Mall of America volunteer for Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaida? Did his self-described transformation into a “God man” lead him to return to fight in his homeland’s civil war, or become a recruit for jihad? Most frightening, was he or any other Somali ever a candidate to return home and strike within the United States?

So far, more than two dozen local Somalis have been subpoenaed to tell a grand jury in Minneapolis what they know of Ahmed and up to 20 other missing men.

While the community anxiously awaits the investigation’s outcome, those who knew Ahmed are left to wonder. “I don’t know where things went wrong, but to be honest with you, I wish I could find out myself,” said Sahal Warsame, his high school best friend. “And if he was still alive, I’d probably ask him why and how. … I know he didn’t put himself in that situation.”

A startling discovery

At midmorning on Oct. 29, 2008, a car packed with explosives smashed through the doors of the Ethiopian Embassy in Hargeisa, capital of the breakaway region of Somaliland, killing 20 people. At the same time, other suicide bombers hit targets across northern Somalia, including two bomb-filled vehicles that plowed into an intelligence headquarters in the port town of Bosasso.

Sourse Star Tribune

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