Pierre-Henry Deshayes for Agence France Presse
The suspected involvement of a Norwegian in last month’s Nairobi mall bloodbath is bringing into focus Scandinavia’s large Somali diaspora, which is believed to have supplied dozens of fighters in recent years.
Dozens of Somali-born Scandinavians have returned to their homeland to join the jihad in recent years, observers said, as suspicion fell on a Norwegian man over last month’s Nairobi mall bloodbath.
Between 20 and 30 people have departed from Norway to join Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Shebab, some of them to hold leadership roles, according to Stig Jarle Hansen, an independent Norwegian Somalia specialist.
“We’re not talking mass recruitment, but some of these recruits are to be taken very seriously,” Hansen said.
The BBC said Thursday that one member of the Westgate mall commando caught by the security cameras was Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, a 23-year-old Norwegian citizen who emigrated from Somalia as a child in 1999.
An unidentified relative of Dhuhulow told the Norwegian public service broadcaster NRK that he was not the person on the security camera images.
Officials at the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) did not confirm the BBC report but reiterated they were investigating the possible implication of a Norwegian of Somali origin, who is likely to be Dhuhulow.
“Based on the information that we have uncovered this far in the investigation… the suspicion of his involvement has been strengthened,” it said Friday.
The massacre, which lasted from September 21 to 24 and was carried out by a small group of attackers, left 67 people dead and 23 missing, according to the Kenyan authorities and Red Cross.
LARVIK, Norway — As a boy, the Somali immigrant sold newspapers door to door in this peaceful seaside Norwegian town and told neighbors he was going to be a doctor and help people in Africa.
In high school, he began taking a prayer rug to school, but in a community with many Somalis — not to mention Muslims from Libya, Chechnya and elsewhere — he hardly stood out. He rarely got into even mild trouble.
But with grades that fell short of medical school requirements, the young man, Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, struggled to find a job after high school and began visiting radical jihadist Web sites. In 2009, he took the first of several long trips back to Somalia.
Norwegian investigators now want to know whether the boy who wanted to be a healer grew up to be a killer. They are questioning relatives and friends of Mr. Dhuhulow, 23, to try to determine whether he was one of the four attackers caught on surveillance cameras during the rampage at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last month, when more than 60 men, women and children were killed.
The investigators suspect he was the killer whom investigators have been referring to as Black Shirt, seen hustling past a jewelry store firing his rifle; stalking a wounded man desperately trying to hide in the grocery store; and limping with a bandage below his left knee, his lower leg soaked in blood.
An official familiar with the investigation in Norway confirmed that the Police Security Service had been keeping track of Mr. Dhuhulow since he was a student at Thor Heyerdahl High School, near where he grew up. NRK, the Norwegian state broadcaster, quoted police sources as saying that he had been in contact with central figures of a Norwegian-based Islamist group, Profetens Ummah, or the Prophet’s Community of Believers.
TV 2 in Norway reported that Mr. Dhuhulow had been active in an online forum linked to the Shabab and posted photographs of “martyrs” killed in Bosnia. On one site, TV 2 reported, his profile picture was a suicide bomber.
CHARRED pieces of bodies, enough to fill two boxes, have been recovered from the Kenyan shopping mall that was stormed by terrorists last month.
The remains, along with four AK-47 rifles believed to have been used by the attackers, were found in part of the mall that collapsed during the siege in Nairobi on September 21.
A security official said it was possible the remains are of the attackers but it would not be definitively known until tests were carried out.
One of the four gunmen has been identified by a real name for the first time: Abdi Dhuhulow, a Norwegian-Somali according to the security official.
Norwegian tax records show a Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow was born in 1990 and was registered at an address in Larvik, southern Norway, as late as 2009.
One man living in another Scandinavian country, who only gave his first name, Yussuf, told AP he believes he had met the gunman at a gathering of Somali immigrants in Oslo, Norway’s capital, in 2008.
Yussuf recalled the man’s name as Abdi and said he was associated with “pretty radical” circles in Norway.
“He was mad. He didn’t feel at home in Norway.”
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