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Death of Somali teen a mystery to Mpls. family

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- He was an infant when he left his homeland of Somalia. He grew up an American, a bright student with dreams of becoming a doctor or lawyer. But those dreams ended when 17-year-old Burhan Hassan returned to Somalia months ago and eventually was killed under mysterious circumstances.

Hassan was one of about a dozen young Somali men who have gone missing from the Minneapolis area over the last couple years -- recruited, their families say, by radical elements in Somalia.

Relatives said they learned Friday that he had been killed and buried in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, but they had few details.

His death follows a suicide bombing carried out in that warring Horn of Africa country by a young Somali man from Minneapolis last October.

"We believe he was killed because he would have been a key person in the investigation into the recruitment (of young Somali men) here in Minneapolis," said Hassan's uncle, Abdirizak Bihi. Bihi said his nephew was found dead -- shot in the head -- in an open area of the city.

Hassan's mother dec-lined to comment Monday. But Bihi, her brother, said she's "devastated, the whole family's devastated," by the news.

"We had a young kid, we put all the efforts in our life to bring him here," Bihi told The Associated Press.

FBI Special Agent E.K. Wilson said he could not confirm whether Hassan had been killed. A State Department spokeswoman, Joanne Moore, had no firm information either.

The FBI has acknowledged an ongoing investigation into the disappearances, but won't elaborate. Several local Somalis say they've been questioned by the FBI, Customs officials, or subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury over the last several months.