The corpse of an American jihadist was found in Mogadishu after a street battle Thursday between al-Shabaab and soldiers supporting the Somali government, intelligence and government officials say. ABC News reported that the body of a man carrying American identification was found after an attack on the Mogadishu airport Thursday that killed two members of an African Union peacekeeping force.
A U.S. official told United Press International they believed the man was an American who traveled to Somalia earlier this year. If he is an American, he would be the latest to die fighting for al-Shabaab. American counterterrorism officials say that since 2006 between 8 and 12 Americans have died while waging jihad in Somalia.
In late 2007, seven Somali Americans slipped out of the Minneapolis area and traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. Eight more did the same in August and November 2008. In the past three years, at least 20 teenagers and young men are believed to have left the Twin Cities for the battlefield in Somalia.
They include Shirwa Ahmed, who on October 29, 2008 killed approximately 20 people in a suicide bombing in the Somali territory of Puntland. He was identified through fingerprints on a severed limb found at the scene. Another was Burhan Hassan, a teenager who disappeared from Minneapolis on November 4, 2008 and was shot and killed in June 2009. His family believes Burhan - who was homesick and wanted to return to the United States – was murdered by al-Shabaab.
Other prominent Americans involved in al-Shabaab include Omar Hammami (AKA Abu Mansur al-Amriki), a U.S. citizen who has become a senior commander for the group, which is affiliated with al Qaida.
Last month, 14 people were indicted on charges of providing money, services and personnel to al-Shabaab. Two of those indicted -Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan of Rochester, Minnesota - are accused of raising funds for al-Shabaab while falsely claiming it was money for humanitarian purposes.