Dead Al-Qaida suspect had ties to missing Minn. Somalis


On Monday, U.S. Special Forces killed a man in Somalia suspected of being a link between al-Qaida in Pakistan and the militia targeted for recruiting Minnesota Somalis to return to fight. Salah Ali Nabhan was a senior instructor for new al-Shabab recruits, which brought in young Somali-Americans from Minneapolis to join their fight in Somalia, according to a National Public Radio report.

Some of the recruits returned to Minneaolis and the FBI says they recognized his mug shot. They said he was one of the trainers at the camps they attended in Somalia. Officials say he is connected to al-Qaida, but was working temporarily with al-Shabab to increase the training for the Somali militia.

The other men killed in the Special Forces attack could be missing Minnesota Somalis, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Nabhan was on the FBI's most-wanted list for his ability to construct and use car bombs. Officials say he rigged the 2002 car bomb to blow up a resort in Kenya run by Israelis.

Al-Shabab, the militia that allegedly recruited and trained the Minnesota Somalis, was originally formed to fight Ethiopian troops when they invaded Somali. Today, they are fighting Somalia's transitional government to form an Islamic leadership. Nabhan allegedly helped bring al-Shabab and al-Qaida together.

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Now the FBI is concerned about Nabhan's Minnesota connection. Agents worry that Nabhan taught Somali-Americans in the camps how to be suicide bombers, and that they might come back and attack in the United States.

It isn't a wild theory. One of the Minneapolis boys who returned from Somalia earlier this year pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in July. His court-appointed attorney said the young man had been recruited by al-Shabab to become a suicide bomber. Another young Minnesotan, Shirwa Ahmed, drove a car bomb into a government compound in northern Somalia last November. He and Nabhan were in the training camps at the same time.

Nabhan was killed Monday in the Somali desert when Special Forces fired at a truck convoy in the sands by helicopter. Officials identified Nabhan's body and they say some of the other missing Minneapolis men could have been killed in the attack.