MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A Minnesota teenager was killed and brutally tortured at a boarding school in Somalia -- and his family believes he may have been targeted for being American. The diplomatic pressure may be building now that Sen. Amy Klobuchar is stepping in.
Ammar Abdirahman was born in Minnesota and raised by his Somali immigrant parents who last December sent the 17-year-old to a school in Somalia to get away from Minnesota gangs and learn about his culture.
But his mother told FOX 9 he may have been killed because he was too American -- “He was smart, he was inquisitive, he was asking questions. And for that, they tortured and killed him,” she said.
Family members provided graphic pictures that appear to show his badly beaten body with deep scars on his back that look like whip marks. They were told five people entered his room last May and beat him to death.
The boarding school was in Puntland, a relatively peaceful, independent state in Somalia. Officials there are acknowledging the killing, but won't provide the remains. Most surprising, people in her own community here in Minnesota have told her to keep quiet.
They’ve told her she might be arrested if she reported what happened to her son -- "They try to destroy my life, my family, can’t say anything."
The family enlisted the help of an attorney, who contacted Klobuchar. She reached out to the state department which is now putting pressure not only on the regional government of Puntland, but also on the Somali federal government.
“It's sad to see the horror of what happened compounded by the lack of information, and the lack of feeling that there's something that can be done about it,” attorney Daniel Kennedy said.
Her son would've turned 18 just two weeks ago. She had dreams he would come home a man proud of both his heritage and his home. But she never imagined he wouldn't come back at all.
Abdirahman's father is still in Somalia trying to find some answers to his son's murder, but he hasn't had much luck. And while authorities there admit this appears to be a killing, they apparently haven't launched anything resembling what we would call a homicide investigation.
The family has identified the boarding school as Daarul Fajri School in Qordho, Somalia. FOX 9 could not find a listing to directly contact the school for comment.
UPDATE (8/25) - The family of Ammar Abdirahman says there were 2 other Minnesotans at this boarding school who may be “witnesses” to the murder. Today they’re asking those 2 individuals to come forward.