US looks at local link to Somaliland bombing
By Harvey Morris in New York
Published: December 19 2008 23:45 | Last updated: December 19 2008 23:45
US authorities are targeting the country’s Somali community following the discovery of a US link in a recent suicide bombing in Somaliland and the unexplained disappearance of young Somali-American men from the US.
More than a dozen Somali-American families in the midwest have reported their sons missing, fearing they may have fled to join al-Qaeda-linked groups in east Africa.
Establishing the youths’ whereabouts has become more urgent since the perpetrator of a suicide bomb in autonomous Somaliland in October was identified as a naturalised American from Minneapolis, the Financial Times has learned.
Members of the 70,000 Somali community in the state fear local imams are indoctrinating young men to join Islamist radicals fighting the western-backed transitional government in Mogadishu. Many of the youths, aged about 18 and 19, were American-born, said Omar Jamal, a community leader.
The spread of home-grown fundamentalism among American Muslims would mark a new trend in the US, although countries in Europe, including the UK, have been victims of attacks carried out by locally born Muslims.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, following standard practice, refused to confirm or deny an investigation was under way. A spokesman said the agency was aware of the disappearances and feared some of the missing had gone to fight in Africa. There was no evidence they planned terror attacks on home soil.
The local Somali community fears they may have gone to join the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, an organisation that could try to seize Mogadishu if, as expected, Ethiopia pulls out its troops.