Oct. 31, 2011 -- Al Qaeda's Somali affiliate has claimed credit for a Saturday suicide bombing that killed 10 in Mogadishu, and says one of the men who carried out the attack was a 22-year-old man from Minnesota known to his friends back home as "Bullethead."
Abdisalan Hussein Ali, who was born in Somalia but raised in Minneapolis, disappeared from Minnesota in 2008. After Saturday's attack in Mogadishu, the terror group al Shabab released a tape that it was said was made by the bomber prior to the assault, featuring an American-accented voice using U.S. slang to preach jihad. The voice urges other youths not to "just chill all day," but wage jihad instead.
On Saturday, two suicide bombers were among of a force of militants disguised in Somali Army uniforms who attacked a military base of African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu. At least ten people died in the bombing and the firefight that followed.
A Somali diplomat to the U.N. said that friends of family of Ali listened to the recording and confirmed his identity, according to the New York Times. If Ali is confirmed to be the bomber, he would be the fourth Somali-American to launch a suicide attack in Somalia. U.S. officials said they had not confirmed the bomber's identity, but were investigating.
Ali was among the local youths indicted in absentia by a grand jury in Minneapolis in 2010 for providing material support to al Shabab. He is currently wanted by the FBI.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Ali graduated from Edison High School in Minneapolis, where schoolmates knew him as "Bullethead," and briefly attended the University of Minnesota before disappearing in 2008. The Times said that Ali was a pre-med student in college; the message that al Shabab attributed to Ali includes the statement, "It is not important that you, you know . . . become a doctor or . . . some sort of engineer."
After a June incident in which a Minnesota man apparently carried out a suicide bombing that killed two African Union soldiers in Somalia, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said that although she could not confirm the incident, "It's consistent with something we have been raising for months, which is a growth of Americans or U.S. persons who have become radicalized."
"That is a fundamental change in how we have seen terrorism [since] the attacks of 9/11," said Napolitano. Since 2006 as many as 30 young Somali men have left the United States to fight in Somalia. The probe into the youths going to fight overseas in Somalia's war received increased attention from the FBI and DHS officials after 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. A second young man from the Seattle area blew himself up in an attack in 2009.