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FBI investigates if Minnesotan, California shooters linked

ST. PAUL -- The FBI is investigating a Minnesotan who faces federal terrorism charges to see if he was in contact with the couple involved in last week's San Bernardino, Calif., terror attack before he turned himself in to Somali authorities. Moh...

Suspect
Mohamed Abdullahi "Miski" Hassan

 

ST. PAUL -- The FBI is investigating a Minnesotan who faces federal terrorism charges to see if he was in contact with the couple involved in last week's San Bernardino, Calif., terror attack before he turned himself in to Somali authorities.

Mohamed Abdullahi "Miski" Hassan surrendered to the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency in Mogadishu a month ago, a U.S. State Department spokesman said. Any communication with California shooters Tashfeen Malik or Syed Rizwan Farook would have occurred before then.

The Los Angeles Times reports that "the FBI has become increasingly 'intrigued with' Hassan, who became a recruiter for the Islamic State. The agency is trying to determine whether he and Farook were in any contact before last week’s attack."

He already had been linked via social media to the shooter in a Garland, Texas, incident in May.

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Hassan, who legally lived in Minneapolis before returning to Somalia, has been active on social media, particularly Twitter, in recruiting for al-Shabab, an al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, according to government officials and leaders of private organizations who follow terrorism activities. His tweets allegedly have influenced others from Minnesota's Somali community to join the jihad.

Hassan is one of the FBI's most wanted terror fugitives and faces 2009 terrorism charges. The charges came shortly after he left Minnesota, where he attended a Minneapolis high school before heading to Somalia.

State Department spokesman Pooja Jhunjhunwala did not say why Hassan's Nov. 6 surrender had not been announced, but did say that Hassan is a "lawful permanent resident of the United States."

"The U.S. mission to Somalia is discussing this case with the Somali federal government," Jhunjhunwala said. "The United States does not have an extradition agreement with Somalia."

Jhunjhunwala said he had no further details of the case.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Hassan "had a fallout with al-Shabab recently after he publicly showed sympathy for ISIS and strongly advocated for al-Shabab to join ISIS, according to postings on his Twitter account."

The New York-based Counter Extremism Project applauded Hassan's arrest, calling him a "prolific jihadi propagandist and recruiter" who "created a broad social-media presence on Twitter and other social media platforms to recruit and incite violence for al-Shabab and ISIS."

Twitter suspended Hassan's accounts more than 30 times, the project reports. "Each time, Miski reappeared and resumed posting messages of support for ISIS, communicating with would-be jihadists, and encouraging heinous acts of violence."

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After a terrorist attack on a French magazine earlier this year, the project quotes a Hassan tweet as saying: "It's time for brothers in the #US to do their part."

The project's leader told ABC News that Hassan has gained influence.

"He's known as one of the go-to individuals online who individuals who want more information about how to travel to ISIS-controlled territory, who want information about what these radical groups are doing, they go to him," project Executive Director David Ibsen said.

Ibsen called Hassan "kind of a new wave of propagandist who is really at the forefront of using communication tools to effectively put out that extremist message."

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