Shirwa Ahmed, Somali jihadist from Twin Cities, in new terrorism report

Just in time for the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a bipartisan think tank has issued a report on how terrorism has changed since 2001. And the Somali men who disappeared from the Twin Cities to play a prominent role in the report. 

The report, "Assessing the Terrorist Threat," from the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C., looks at Al-Qaeda and its allies in the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, and Iraq. It concludes that Al-Qaeda is less severe threat than when it masterminded the 9/11attacks. But the organization has become more diverse and complex and still has the capacity still to kill dozens or even hundreds of Americans.

Now, homegrown terrorism--like the kind that came from here--is the biggest threat we face. In fact, it's so severe that the report's authors call it "Achilles' heel in that we currently have no strategy to counter the type of threat posed by homegrown terrorists and other radicalized recruits."

A major threat is al-Shabab, the Al-Qaeda ally controlling about half of south-central Somalia, the report states. And Shirwa Ahmed, the home-grown American suicide bomber, is the authors' prime example.

"Shirwa Ahmed, an ethnic Somali, graduated from high school in Minneapolis in 2003, then worked pushing passengers in wheelchairs at the Minneapolis airport," the report reads. "During this period Ahmed was radicalized; the exact mechanisms of that radicalization are still murky, but in late 2007 he traveled to Somalia. About a year later, on October 29, 2008, Ahmed drove a truck loaded with explosives toward a government compound in Puntland, northern Somalia, blowing himself up and killing about 20 people, including United Nations peacekeeping troops and international humanitarian assistance workers. The FBI matched Ahmed's finger, recovered at the scene, to fingerprints already on file for him."

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