Retaliation, Shootings, Murder: Court Docs, Reports Reveal Violence of Twin Cities Somali Gangs

A Hennepin County criminal complaint detailing the March 1 murder of a Somali teenager links several other Somali-involved shootings and paints a picture of seemingly unchecked gang retaliation and violence in the Twin Cities Somali community.

Abdilahi Muse Ibrahim and Omar Nur Hassan

A Hennepin County criminal complaint detailing the March 1 murder of a Somali teenager links several other Somali-involved shootings and paints a picture of seemingly unchecked gang retaliation and violence in the Twin Cities Somali community.

According to the complaint, on March 1 there were three separate shooting incidents in Minneapolis involving several Somali victims and alleged Somali perpetrators. One of the shootings, just before midnight, resulted in the death of 17-year-old Abdiwasa Mohamed Farah inside a vehicle behind the Red Sea restaurant in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Two other men were also injured in that shooting. 

Farah had been in the vehicle with five other individuals who had traveled to the Red Sea to purchase marijuana. Surveillance video revealed that while the vehicle was parked behind the building, two of the front seat occupants exited the vehicle and walked toward the front of the building, ostensibly to purchase marijuana. Their vehicle was approached from behind by another vehicle. Two armed suspects exited that vehicle from the front and rear passenger side of the vehicle and approached the vehicle where Farah and two others were in the back seat and opened fire, shooting numerous times into the vehicle.

It was later revealed that Farah had been shot nine times, being struck twice in the head and seven times in the back. A second victim suffered multiple bullet wounds including to his spine, and investigators were subsequently informed that the second victim would likely be paralyzed, the complaint said.

Less than three hours before the murder of Farah, another Somali male had been shot near the Karmel Mall, also known as the “Somali Mall,” in south Minneapolis. A post by the Minneapolis Scanner page on Facebook immediately following the incident indicated that a person was shot multiple times at that location and that four people wearing ski masks inside a vehicle were reported to have been the suspects. The victim was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) for treatment of his injuries. 

The victim in the Karmel Mall shooting subsequently told police that he thought he had been targeted by members of the 1627 Boys Street Gang because some people believed he was a member of the Somali Outlaw gang. (Note: A third Somali-related March 1 shooting was referenced in the complaint but was not detailed in the complaint). 

Just days prior to the March 1 murder, there had been another Somali-related drive-by shooting that left one man injured mid-afternoon on Feb. 19 near the Cedar Cultural Center, again in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. 

The shooting events and the suspected shooters involved in these incidents have been linked to each other within the Red Sea murder complaint and other media reports which tie the events and other recent violence to rival Somali gangs. Some of the gangs referenced in the complaint and other recent media reports include the Somali Outlaw gang (aka Somali Outlawz gang) – which reportedly controls the area around Karmel Mall, the 1627 Boys Street Gang – which is named after a public housing high rise in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, Madhiban with Attitude (MWA) and the Cedar Riverside Crips.

Two suspects in the March 1 Red Sea murder and injury of two others were identified in the criminal complaint as Abdilahi Muse Ibrahim and Omar Nur Hassan (top photos), both age 21. Warrants were issued for their arrests on April 10, and investigators believed that both had fled the state of Minnesota, the complaint said.

Ibrahim was taken into custody by authorities with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and booked into Hennepin County Jail (HCJ) on May 9, and Hassan was apprehended by HCSO and booked into HCJ on July 16. Both men have each been charged with one felony count of aid/abet second-degree murder and two felony counts of second-degree attempted murder.

The complaint described that investigators were able to identify the suspects and their vehicle through surveillance video and information obtained from HCMC where the suspects had arrived with a group of about 20 other young Somali males in about five different vehicles following the Karmel Mall shooting in the hours preceding the Red Sea murder. One of the suspects had identified himself to HCMC staff by name and said he was a cousin of the Karmel Mall shooting victim. The images obtained from HCMC were compared to surveillance video of the suspects from the Red Sea restaurant at the time of the murder and a positive comparison was made of two suspects and their vehicle.

Police gathered discharged 9mm and .40 caliber bullet casings at the scene of the murder in the Red Sea parking lot. The .40 caliber casings were eventually forensically matched to bullet casings found at the scene of the Feb. 19 drive-by shooting outside the Cedar Cultural Center, indicating that the same .40 caliber gun had been used in both incidents, according to the complaint.

Two suspects were eventually identified in the Feb. 19 drive-by shooting as Farhan Musse Ibrahim, 20, and Ahmed Rashed Ahmed, 27 (both pictured below). Farhan Musse Ibrahim is a documented Somali Outlaw gang member and has been identified as the brother of Abdilahi Muse Ibrahim, according to the complaint.

Farhan Musse Ibrahim and Ahmed Rashed Ahmed

Farhan Musse Ibrahim was driving a rental vehicle registered in his brother Abdilahi’s name at the time of the Feb. 19 drive-by shooting. Farhan crashed the rental vehicle into a snowbank following the shooting and bailed on foot, the complaint said. 

Farhan Ibrahim and Ahmed were charged on March 5 for the Feb. 19 drive-by shooting and warrants were issued for their arrests. The two were captured together in South Boston, Massachusetts,  on May 16 where they were reported to be travelling in a trucker’s rig. 

Both men have each been charged with one count of felony second-degree attempted murder involving a drive-by shooting for the Feb. 19 incident. Farhan Ibrahim has also been charged with one count of felony second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon involving substantial bodily harm, and Ahmed has been charged with one count of felony aid/abet second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon involving substantial bodily harm. Farhan Ibrahim is also facing three felony counts of second-degree attempted murder in another case stemming from a Feb. 10 incident.

In 2009, MPR News reported on the growing violence and gang formation within the Somali immigrant community and that police had identified a disturbing trend: Somali gangs [were] beginning to divide themselves across the same clan lines that destroyed their homeland. 

Also in 2009, CBS News reported about the rising plague of Somali gangs in Minneapolis, and indicated that hundreds of young community members were being recruited into gangs. The report also noted the difficulty police and prosecutors have in catching and trying perpetrators due to the insular nature of the community and the unwillingness of people to come forward with information.

Another national report from this past Feb. following a Cedar-Riverside shooting confirmed that police and prosecutors are still facing the same problem of a “tight-lipped” community. The report said that some officers believe that issues of “cultural assimilation” in the Somali immigrant community are at the root of the problem and that people like US Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents the 5th congressional district in Minnesota which includes the Cedar-Riverside area, could do much more to effectively address the challenges between police and the community.

Despite the Somali community’s reported unwillingness to cooperate with police on investigations, just days after Farah’s murder at the Red Sea, Somali residents and business owners in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood demanded during a community meeting more response from Minneapolis government and police to curb the shootings. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) stepped up patrols in both areas following Farah’s murder and the Karmel Mall shooting.

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood has two Somali beat officers patrolling the area, and although some residents and business owners have requested more police, other community members pushed back on that idea, according to a report in the Minnesota Daily in April following another community safety meeting. Other residents claimed police weren’t responsive to their calls about “outsiders” coming into the area to cause trouble. One of the beat officers responded saying, “[y]ou have to call for us to respond to deal with the situation. Since we started a couple of months ago, we have never gotten a call about anything like that,” he said, indicating the community’s continued unwillingness to contact the police.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) last year approved large-scale security upgrades to the government-funded Cedar High apartment complex in the heart of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which is owned and managed by MPHA, after a spate of prior violent assaults on elderly residents. The improvements included secured entryways, an updated security camera system and a 6-foot perimeter fence, which cost taxpayers nearly $1 million dollars. 

More security upgrades are also being discussed for the Riverside-Plaza apartments that house over 4,000 residents over concerns about “people from outside the neighborhood coming through on the light rail and committing crimes like stealing purses and cell phones,” according to a May report by the Minnesota Daily. The report also described an incident in which teenagers had taken a stolen vehicle for a joyride, crashed it and then fled the area on the light rail.

Other reports indicate that incidents of Somali-related gang violence and Somali “group” crime aren’t isolated to the Cedar-Riverside and Karmel Mall areas, however. 

In 2013 the murders of three men in south Minneapolis, northeast Minneapolis and Burnsville were attributed to Somali gang violence. In 2014 a Hennepin County jury convicted Somali Outlawz gang member Zakaria Yusuf of attempted murder after a shooting on the 200 block of West Lake Street. In 2016, Burnsville Somali Outlaws gang member Fausi Ibrahim Mohamed was convicted in federal court on conspiracy in the straw purchase of firearms. Last August St. Paul Pistol Boyz gang member Farhan Omar Hersi pleaded guilty to murder following a shooting behind a Seven Corners bar. Last October a Hennepin County jury convicted Hassan Farth Muse, a reported violent gang member, of attempted murder for a 2017 shooting on the 1500 block of Nicollet Avenue. 

A search of social media pages that regularly post local police scanner crime reports reveals numerous incidents across Minneapolis involving “groups” of Somali males. Areas of Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct appear to be heavily impacted, as are areas of downtown Minneapolis and areas near the University of Minnesota. 

A recent post by Minneapolis Crime Watch detailed another shooting that occurred on June 8 in north Minneapolis where both victim and suspect were described as Somali males. According to comments and police dispatch audio linked in the post, the victim was shot in the back and drove or was transported in a private vehicle to downtown Minneapolis where EMS responders found him and transported him to HCMC. Just a few hours after that shooting, an off-duty police officer at HCMC reported that he observed a vehicle containing two Somali males “intentionally try to run over six people” by driving up onto the sidewalk near the hospital. Upon inquiry, an MPD spokesperson said that to date no arrests have been made in the June 8 shooting and that he would not comment further with any information about the case, so it’s unknown whether the June 8 shooting is connected to other incidents of gang related violence or whether the attempt to run over people outside the hospital was related to the shooting.

The suspects in the Red Sea murder, Abdilahi Muse Ibrahim of Minneapolis, and Omar Nur Hassan of Savage, each remain in custody at HCJ on $1 million dollars bail and are expected to make their next court appearances on August 12 and August 8, respectively.

Farhan Musse Ibrahim of Brooklyn Park, facing charges in the Feb. 19 drive-by shooting and another attempted murder case remains in custody at HCJ on $700,000 bail. His next court appearance on both cases is scheduled for October 21.

Ahmed Rashed Ahmed, Boston Mass., also facing charges in the Feb. 19 drive-by shooting was ordered conditionally released on $200,000 bail by Judge Jay Quam, despite having fled the state following the drive-by shooting. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 21.

(Photo credits: Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Dakota County Sheriff’s Office)

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information offers citizen-powered news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

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