An American member of an al Qaeda-connected terror group has been killed in fighting in Somalia, according to intelligence and government officials there. The fighter, a Somali-American man known as Dahir Gurey Sheikh Ali Guled, was found dead in Mogadishu after a street battle between the militant group, Al Shabab, and pro-government forces.
A US official told ABC News that Gurey was believed to be an American citizen who arrived in Somalia earlier this year, but cautioned that the US government has not independently confirmed Mr. Gurey's death or nationality. Somali officials said the man had documents on him that indicated he was American.
If Gurey is determined to be an American, he would be the latest in an increasing number of young Somali-Americans who have migrated to Somalia for jihad. In 2008, a Somali-American suicide bomber attacked African Union forces in Puntland, Northern Somalia and last September another Somali-American suicide bomber attacked the African Union headquarters in Mogadishu. The highest profile American fighting for Al Shabab is Omar Hammami, an Alabama native who is known as Al Amriki. Hammami, an Alabama native, is in the top ranks of the terror organization.
The last month has seen intense fighting as Al Shabab launched its "Ramadan Offensive". The Somali transitional government called Gurey an Al Shabab commander, though he had apparently only been in the country for several months. American counterterrorism officials estimate that eight to 12 US citizens have been killed in fighting in Somalia since 2006.
American citizens began turning up in Somalia ready to fight in late 2006; the number sharply increased in 2007, when as many as 20 young men from the Minneapolis area traveled to the area to join Al Shabab.
The flow of Americans into Somalia's war received increased scrutiny from FBI and DHS officials after a Minnesota man, Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, blew himself up in a suicide bombing in northern Somalia Oct. 28, 2008 in an attack that targeted an African Union intelligence post, according to US officials.