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Somali American Terror Recruits Seen Posing Threat to U.S.
Abdirahman Warsame, a Bellevue, Wash., activist who runs the Terror Free Somalia Foundation, disclosed that he had spoken with the parents of an "Omar Mohamud" in Seattle whom federal agents are investigating on suspicion of involvement in the Mogadishu attack. FBI agents collected DNA samples from the parents, Warsame said. The bureau declined to comment about the investigation.
Several U.S. officials said it could take another week to confirm whether the man participated in the bombing. Witnesses said the bombers spoke English and drove two trucks with U.N. markings into the A.U. compound.
A nearly year-old FBI investigation into Somali American terrorism recruits is ongoing and "on track," said bureau spokesman E.K. Wilson. The investigation follows the departure of dozens of Somali American and other Muslim teenagers from Minneapolis, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio, as well as other areas, who law enforcement officials suspect were recruited to go to Somalia.
The FBI previously confirmed the death of Shirwa Ahmed, 27, a college student from Minneapolis, in a suicide bombing last October. Since then, U.S. relatives have reported the deaths of Burhan Hassan, 18; Jamal Bana, 20; Zakaria Maruf, 30; Mohamoud Hassan, 23; and Troy Kastigar, 28. Another man, Ruben Shumpert, an African American convert to Islam from Seattle, was killed in a U.S.-supported rocket attack.
The Justice Department disclosed this summer that three U.S. citizens -- Kamal Said Hassan and Salah Osman Ahmed of Minnesota and Abdifatah Yusuf Isse of Seattle -- have pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges and await sentencing in this country after cooperating with investigators regarding their training in Somalia and Yemen.
Overall, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said, "we've measured the numbers of Somali Americans that go back to Somalia to fight in the dozens."
By comparison, the number of Americans of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi or other descent who have gone overseas for training with groups related to al-Qaeda is "an order of magnitude smaller . . . in the handfuls," the official said.
Staff writer Mary Beth Sheridan and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.