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Two abducted before slaying: Somali men face 23 charges, including murder, after countryman’s body found in Hermitage Park


Police put up a tent while they investigate a body found in Hermitage Park in northeast Edmonton. Photograph by: Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal

Two men were abducted Sunday by kidnappers armed with a shotgun, then robbed and confined before one of them was killed and dumped in a city park, according to an indictment obtained by The Journal.

The body of 20-year-old Mohamed Farah Khalif of Hamilton, Ont., was discovered about 5:30 a.m. Sunday just off the road on the north side of Hermitage Park on the city’s east end. Police have not said what happened to the second man who was abducted.

Abdikadir Mohamed Abdow, 22, and Mohamed Abdilla Awaleh, 36, face 23 charges in connection with the abductions and death, including first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery.

Police have not released information about how Khalif died.

The victims and accused are all members of the Somali community. Abdow is well-known to the local community by his street name, Virus.

Khalif and his accused killers knew one another, but police would not elaborate on their relationship.

Abdow and Awaleh were charged a day after Khalif’s death, and police say their speedy arrest would not have been possible without community help. “I want to thank members from within the Somali community for coming forward and providing us with valuable information in relation to this homicide,” Deputy Chief David Korol said.

Mahamad Accord said the Somali community’s relationship with police is improving, and he hopes the trust will continue to grow. “The tension is lessening,” he said.

Khalif’s death is sadly similar to four unsolved killings of Somali men here last year, the community leader said.

The drug and gang units were notified about the abductions and the killing. The robbery unit has been training in preparation for an increase in drug-related abductions.

Local police have been watching North American trends in increased drug-related abductions and expect the trend to hit here. Five years ago, abductions were rare, said Staff Sgt. Stewart Callioux.

In 2007, the robbery section was involved in 20 such cases. In 2008, that number fell to 12, and in the first couple of months of 2009 the unit didn’t see any.

The unit likely doesn’t hear about all abductions since kidnappers usually tell the family not to go to police.

“I’m pretty sure it happens probably weekly,” Callioux said. “It just doesn’t get reported to us.”

When an abduction is reported, officers will usually coach the family on what to say to kidnappers demanding a ransom.

Other officers will work to find out where the victim is being held.

The robbery unit brought RCMP experts to Edmonton from B.C. for training in April, and hopes to put more officers through the four-day course.

Abdow and Awaleh made their first court appearances on Tuesday morning. Khalif is Edmonton’s 10th homicide victim of the year.

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