MN man who went to Somalia says he left al-Shabab, isn't part of Islamic State


The former Minnesota man who left the U.S. years ago to join an al-Qaida affiliate denied he's a member of al-Shabab or the Islamic State in an interview with a news outlet.

Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, also known as Mujahid Miski, turned himself in to the government in Somalia's capitol of Mogadishu last month.

He spoke with Voice of America for a story published Tuesday, and acknowledged he has voiced support for the Islamic State – but said he wasn't a part of the militant group.

Hassan attended Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. He left for Somalia in 2008 to join al-Shabab (an al-Qaida-linked militant group based in Somalia) when he was 17 years old, and was indicted on federal terror charges a year later.

He told Voice of America however he actually left al-Shabab in 2013, disagreeing with their unjust imprisonment, torture and killing.

Al-Shabab and the Islamic State are not allies right now. As The Guardian explains, there is an internal divide within al-Shabab members whether to stay affiliated with al-Qaida, or switch allegiance to the Islamic State.

More on Hassan

Hassan was born in Somalia, according to earlier reports.The State Department – in a press release sent to several media outlets including MPR NewsKSTP and the Associated Press – called him a “lawful permanent resident” of the United States, but said he is not a citizen.

The U.S. doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Somalia, so it’s unclear what the next steps will be in his case. But Hassan told Voice of America he doesn't intend to return to the United States to face charges.

He's been described as especially influential on social media. The Counter Extremism Project’s David Ibsen described Hassan as one of the most influential terror recruiters on Twitter, and he also reportedly used social media to call for an attack in Texas in May.

MPR News published a profile of Hassan shortly after the Texas incident, and there’s more about his activity on social media from the Anti-Defamation League.

Next Up


Witness in al-Shabab trial: Minnesotans in Somalia were 'scared to death'

At least a few of the more than 20 young men who left Minnesota to join a group linked to al-Qaida in Somalia were scared to leave under threats of death, it was revealed as part of an ongoing trial of Mahamud Said Omar, the first of the men to be put on trial. He's accused of sending money and Minnesota recruits to the terrorist group al-Shabab. The trial Tuesday enters its second week.

Islamic center threatens to close Wells Fargo accounts if bank doesn't resume transfers to Somalia

The director of an Islamic center in Minneapolis says members will close their accounts on May 1 if Wells Fargo doesn't reopen money transfers to the war-torn country, where many Somalis rely on money from friends and family in the United States. The bank decided to shut down transfers to Somalia in 2008. "Really, all I can say is that it was a business decision that was made," a bank spokeswoman tells the Minnesota Daily.

Family: Minnesota Somali man left to join al-Shabab

Another young Somali man in Minnesota has gone to Somalia to join al-Shabab, his family says, renewing fears that the terror group is still recruiting Somalis living in the U.S. to return to their homeland to fight, the Associated Press reports.