A 34-year-old Muslim immigrant has been arrested and charged with brutally raping a 10-year-old girl in Minnesota and the local media in Minneapolis has refused to identify the man as a refugee from Somalia.
KSTP 5, an ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, referred to the suspect, Ahmed Hersi Abdi as “A Minneapolis man.” CBS affiliate WCCO 4 used the same description, giving no mention of the man’s background or how he arrived in the U.S.
The attack occurred Sunday evening in an apartment complex in the city’s Cedar Riverside neighborhood, also known as “Little Mogadishu” for its high concentration of Somali refugees imported from United Nations refugee camps in Africa.
Abdi allegedly followed the girl out of an elevator. He asked for her name and offered his hand to her. She shook his hand and Abdi refused to let go. Police said he proceeded to rape the girl in the hallway of the apartment building.
Authorities used video surveillance footage to help track down the suspect, who was arrested about 24 hours later on Monday in St. Paul.
The U.S. government has resettled more than 110,000 Somali refugees since the early 1990s and shipped in another 8,858 during the most recent fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, according to U.S. State Department data.
Witnesses said they heard screaming in the hall and saw a young girl crying, so they flagged down an off-duty police officer.
The girl was sent to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s John Elder said the officers knew who the suspect was after seeing the video because they’d had frequent encounters with him.
Watch video clip of local TV station’s coverage of rape:
Abdi has a long rap sheet. According to court records, he was convicted of trespassing in 2003, disorderly conduct in 2003 and public urination in 2012.
Several other previous charges against Abdi have been dismissed. In 2011, he was charged with two counts of fifth-degree assault and one count of disorderly conduct, which were all dismissed after he was found incompetent to stand trial, according to court records.
The court dismissed another fifth-degree assault charge in 2010 citing “mental deficiency.”
In 2002, a fifth-degree assault charge against Abdi was dismissed. And, last year, a lurking charge against him was also tossed out of court.
Refugee resettlement watchdog Ann Corcoran, who has followed the refugee program closely since 2007, said in a case like this it is “pretty easy to figure out” that Abdi is an immigrant and yet no one in Minnesota is asking how he has managed to evade deportation with such a lengthy criminal record.
“Ahmed Hersi Abdi has a long criminal record. So, why wasn’t he deported?” she asks in her latest blog.
If Abdi ever gets outed as being a Somali Muslim refugee, Corcoran said she expects Omar Jamal, the Somali community’s media mouthpiece, will be out front and center being interviewed by the local media.
“We first heard about Jamal in 2008 when another rape happened in a St. Paul apartment complex hallway and he immediately went to the defense of the Somali rapist,” Corcoran writes. “Unfortunately the Minneapolis Star Tribune has taken down its story about Jamal and the 2008 hallway rapist.”
“Lucky taxpayers,” Corcoran continued. “We paid for his resettlement, surely his welfare and now we will get to pay for his long imprisonment.”
She said it is also curious as to why the United Nations high commissioner for refugees is continuing to send Somali refugees to America more than two decades after civil war started there. The U.N. refugee agency has recently begun sending Somalis back to Somalia from its Kenyan camps amid reports that life is starting to return to normal in Somalia.
Yet, Somalis were the third largest ethnic group admitted to the U.S. as refugees this past year.
“No matter what the feds promise, they can’t screen the Somalis any better than the Syrians,” Corcoran said.