Timeline: From Mogadishu to Minneapolisby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
Twin Cities community activist Omar Jamal has always commanded the media spotlight. But his journey to prominence is fraught with controversy and contradictions.
Once seen as a rising star by members of the Somali-American community, Jamal has become a lightning rod for their differences.
- Feb. 1, 1973 - Omar Abdi Jamal is born in Mogadishu, according to his application for U.S. asylum. (His application for Canadian asylum indicated he was born in 1969.) As a child, Jamal learns English at a private school run by an uncle.
- Mid-1970s - Jamal's father joins an insurgency against the Ethiopian government.
- Nov. 10, 1989 - Omar Abdi Jamal, a Somali citizen, arrives in Canada and applies for refugee status.
- Dec. 2, 1991 - Jamal receives "landed immigrant status" in Canada. It's the equivalent of having permanent status in the U.S.
- Oct. 20, 1997 - Jamal arrives in New York from Kenya, carrying a false Kenyan passport. He settles in Memphis, Tenn.
- April 1998 - Jamal seeks asylum in the U.S. from his home country of Somalia. On his application, he denies ever being granted permanent residence or asylum in any country other than Somalia.
- Aug. 21, 1998 - Jamal is granted asylum status in the U.S.
- 1999 - Jamal moves from Memphis to the Twin Cities.
- 2001 - The Immigration and Naturalization Service (now ICE) becomes aware of discrepancies between Jamal's immigration history and his application for asylum in the U.S. An investigation ensues.
- 2002 - Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Jamal rises to prominence in local media. The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press quote him a total of 53 times during the year on matters ranging from Muslim civil-rights to Minneapolis police conduct.
- Jan. 6, 2002 - Jamal leaves for Seattle and Lewiston, Maine, for his "National Tour Against Hate." Jamal calls for the Lewiston mayor's resignation after the elected official made derogatory comments about Somali-Americans.
- March 12, 2002 - Minneapolis police fatally shoot Abu Kassim Jeilani, a mentally ill Somali man who was carrying a machete. Omar Jamal calls for the resignation of the police chief and describes Minneapolis as a "slaughterhouse for immigrants."
- April 4, 2003 - The U.S. government charges Jamal with violating immigration rules.
- Jan. 7, 2005 - Jamal is convicted in federal court in Memphis of lying to immigration officials. He appeals the conviction. He says the U.S. is targeting him because of his outspoken views against the government and for championing the civil liberties of Muslims.
- Feb. 15, 2005 - Jamal speaks to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. about how U.S. policy is breeding terrorists in Somalia.
- June 2, 2006 - Jamal is sentenced to one year of probation and is referred to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for deportation.
- Aug. 29, 2007 - The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds Jamal's criminal conviction.
- Late 2008 - News breaks over the disappearance of a number of Minneapolis Somali-American men, one of whom became a suicide bomber in Somalia. Jamal is quoted on CNN, FOX News, ABC News, and USA Today, among other news outlets.
- April 8, 2009 - Jamal holds a phone conference with Somali pirates who have held a Nigerian ship hostage for several months.
- April 22, 2009 - Jamal assists in retaining a lawyer for a Somali teen facing piracy and hostage-taking charges. The teen is the only accused pirate to survive the hostage-taking of Richard Phillips, the captain of a ship siezed by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
Source: Court documents, media reports