WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 -- A U.S. citizen who killed himself in a suicide bomb attack in Somalia last year was actively recruited in the United States, FBI Director Robert Mueller confirmed today.
"A man from Minneapolis became what we believe to be the first U.S. citizen to carry out a terrorist suicide bombing," Mueller said of Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen.
"The attack occurred last October in northern Somalia, but it appears that this individual was radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota," Mueller said.
The comments before the Council on Foreign Relations come several months after the FBI and Justice Department established a working group to look at a handful of cases where men of Somali descent returned to Somalia to fight in the ongoing conflict there.
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials have confirmed to ABC News that some of the individuals who have fought in Somalia have returned to the United States. The FBI has looked at possible cases in Minneapolis; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle; San Diego; and Washington, D.C.
In a question and answer session moderated by ABC News' Terry Moran after his speech, Mueller said about Ahmed, "We believe he was recruited here in the United States and that others may have been radicalized."
Since last year, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have tried to analyze what inspired the men to travel to Somalia, a country long mired in violence.
Islamic militants from the group Al Shabab have engaged in intense fighting with Ethiopian and African Union troops. U.S. officials believe the group could merge with elements of al Qaeda's east African network and further gain influence destabilizing the region.
Somali-Americans and the 'Global Jihad'
Last month, FBI intelligence chief Don Van Dyne was asked at a Senate hearing why men from the United States were going to fight in Somalia.
"It's one we have been pondering in the Somalia case ... [the assessment] is to contribute to the global jihad. ... The people who fight overseas and come back, they have the skills [using an AK-47] ... we are concerned about people acquiring these skills," he told the lawmakers.
In his remarks today, Mueller warned about the risk of failed states in his speech on the global terrorist threat.
"World politics often shape terrorist and criminal threats against the United States," he said. "A crisis in the Horn of Africa may well have a ripple effect in Minneapolis."