The mystery of Farah Mohamed Beledi

No one has yet figured out how a growing number of Somali young men from Minneapolis are ending up as suicide bombers in Somalia, but Laura Yuen’s excellent story this morning on Farah Mohamed Beledi certainly makes it clear that his path in particular is more of a mystery because his closest family members were no longer in his life long before he went to Somalia.

Whether that was by design or merely the confluence of events is unclear.

From accounts, he was a troubled kid who ran with gangs and then got sent away to prison.

This paragraph in reporter Yuen’s story tells a significant tale:

Court records show Beledi pleaded guilty in 2007 to stabbing a man in the neck and his side during a soccer game at Central High School in St. Paul. Family members say he was locked up for about two years. No one from the family visited him in prison, his mother said. By that time, their relationships with him were already strained.

But when he got out of prison, his appearance at a mosque in Minneapolis seemed to suggest he had changed, possibly for the better…

Farah Beledi also started counseling troubled youth as an outreach worker in the Somali-American community. He met young men at the Somali malls, using his own record of bad choices and hard time as an example. One community member said Farah Beledi was effective in his message because he had the street cred to back up his cautionary tales.

And yet, the family and the young man did not communicate, the story says:

Abdulahi Beledi said the last time he saw his little brother was seven years ago. And their mother says it’s been at least three years since she’s spoken to Farah Beledi. Once Farah Beledi turned 18, the family doesn’t know where he lived or what crowd he hung out with. Farah Beledi never knew his father, who died when he was a baby.

The FBI clearly believes someone is “radicalizing” the Somali men, someone with obvious influence in their lives.

It would be interesting to go back over the lives of the other men who’ve disappeared to see if there’s also a pattern of “strained” relationships at home.

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