A sad, scary story in Minneapolis' Somali community is getting worse with news that Zakaria Maruf was killed Saturday in Somalia. He becomes the fourth Minneapolis area Somali to die in his homeland in the past year.
Maruf was featured in this New York Times report published Sunday, where he was cast as a recruiter trying to lure more young Somalis to join him in fighting with the Al-Shabab terrorist group.
It isn't clear how Maruf died. Two days earlier, a 20-year-old named Jamal Bana was seen on a website dead from a gunshot to the head, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
In June, Burhan Hassan was shot and killed apparently after deciding to quit Al-Shabab and return to Minnesota.
Last October, Shirwa Ahmed became the first known American to carry out a suicide bombing, driving an explosive-laden truck into a government compound as part of a series of Al-Shabab attacks.
The FBI reportedly has criminal investigations in Minneapolis and several other cities into the recruitment of the Somalis and the financing of their travel back to their homeland. More than 20 young men are believed to have made the journey to join the Somali jihad, with Maruf being one of the first.
Last week, the terrorist group beheaded seven people reportedly for abandoning Islam and espionage.
Benedicts Gorderiaux, a Somalia researcher for Amnesty International, said Al-Shabab is trying to establish itself as in control and "it's also linked to them wanting to terrorize the population under their control under the guise of applying sharia [Islamic] law."
The Times story also includes a transcript of a radio interview with Maruf. Read it here. In it, he calls non-Muslims enemies who want to break Islam. He also says the young men who left the U.S. for Somalia did so freely:
"It is not possible to brainwash or coerce a conscious, grown man. And where we come from is not a place where people are coerced or brainwashed.
We heard the verses from Allah, the most high, and we came for that reason."
Families of the missing young men have struggled to find out what they can. It is important to note that they have held protests condemning Al-Shabab and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which the families feel has been a hindrance to the law enforcement investigation.
See video from the latest protest here.