The U.S. State Department believes Minnesota could be key to capturing two American men suspected of leading the charge to recruit westerners to fight for the terror group al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The agency is offering a $10 million reward in the search, and they also reached out specifically to the Twin Cities because it's believed that someone in the local Somali community, which is the largest outside of Somalia, could help crack the case.
Both of the men sought were born in America, but the FBI believes they were in charge of recruiting Somali men to fly overseas to fight in Somalia.
The man known as the rapping jihadist, Omar Hammami, was born in Alabama -- but his use of slick videos and rap lyrics have made him one of al-Shabaab's top recruiters, according to investigators.
"They do know these young people more than some of us," said Abdi Bihi, whose nephew was one of more than 20 young men enticed to leave Minnesota to fight in Somalia. "He identifies the real issues that young people have in the west -- especially in the poor communities."
In at least two cases, two of those men would die as suicide bombers.
Now, there's a $5 million reward for information leading to Hammami's capture -- and there's another $5 million for the person who leads them to Jehad Mostafa, who is originally from the Milwaukee area.
Both Hammami and Mostafa are believed to be in Somalia now, but the FBI and State Department both believe the best information and most solid leads may come from the Somali community back in the United States, especially in the Twin Cities.
The timing of the reward is telling too. Despite escalating violence in Somalia, al-Shabaab is deeply divided by infighting. Hammami, who is thought to be too Hollywood to be a jihadist, recently posted a video begging for his life.
"I think [the State Department] believes they are more vulnerable than ever and could be snatched," Bihi told FOX 9 News. "Others are not protecting them."
It's possible that the rapping jihadist is now wanted by both his fellow terrorists and the U.S. government, and the man who spoke about martyrdom in his song, "Waiting for a Cruise Missile," may yet get his wish.
All information provided to investigators will be kept strictly confidential, and informants may be eligible for relocation. Tips can be sent by e-mail at RFJ@state.gov or by calling 1-800-US-REWARD.