Kenya mall attacker 'not a troublemaker'
NAIROBI, Kenya — Quiet and respectful at the mosque as a boy, Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow later became angry and radicalized, people in the coastal town in Norway where he grew up said Friday of the Somali native — the first Westgate Mall attacker to be identified.
Security camera images show the 23-year-old and three other gunmen firing coldly on shoppers as they made their way along store aisles in the upscale mall four weeks ago Saturday.
Until recently, investigators had referred to the attackers only by the colors of their shirts. However, two officials in Nairobi, one Western and one Kenyan, confirmed on Friday that one of the gunmen had been identified as Dhuhulow.
The suspect's 26-year-old sister, reached in the southern Norwegian town of Larvik, said his family was unaware of any role he may have played in the four-day siege that killed at least 67 people.
“I don't want to believe this. I don't believe that this is him. It doesn't look like him. It isn't him,” Idman Dhuhulow said from the quiet town of 40,000 nestled between mountains and the sea, where Dhuhulow lived when his family moved there from Somalia in 1999.
She said her brother went to the Somali capital of Mogadishu for a three-month visit in 2009, then moved to Somalia for good in March of the following year.
He had been studying economics in Norway, and “his plan was to go back to Mogadishu and study there,” she said.
“We had the best relationship that you can have. He was nice and careful,” she said, adding that she had read media reports that he had become radicalized, but “that's not something I saw.”
Mohamed Hassan, a leader in the Somali immigrant community in Larvik, described Dhuhulow as respectful to his elders as a young boy and teen.
“He was a quiet, lovable boy while he was here. I never saw him fight other young boys. He was not a troublemaker here in Larvik,” Hassan said.
However, others recalled a different Dhuhulow.
Bashe Musse, a Somali Norwegian community leader in Oslo, said Dhuhulow had become radicalized in the years before he left Norway. And another man, who would give only his first name, Yussuf, said a man he believes was the Norwegian-Somali gunman was associated with “pretty radical” circles in Norway.
“He was mad. He didn't feel at home in Norway,” said Yussuf, who declined to give his last name for fear of reprisals from sympathizers of al-Shabab, the Somali militant group behind the mall attack.
Yussuf said he met the man he knew as Abdi in 2008 in Oslo and had not had any contact with him since, but several people he knew recognized him in the closed-circuit TV footage of the mall attack.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Iraqi libraries ransacked
- Kurdish forces fight back, but new strategy could hinder resistance
- ‘A chink in’ jihadi ‘armor’
- Australia facing methamphetamine crisis
- Divide between mainstream French, poor Muslims evident in terror reaction
- Putin casts off rich cronies as sanctions hit Russian elite
- More than 30 Filipino police commandos killed in clash with rebels
- Obama, Modi declare era of ‘new trust’ in US-India relations
- Obama defends Yemen counterterrorism strategy
- Images of shot Egypt protester revive criticism of police
- Islamic State group pushed out of Syria’s Kobani