Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Exactly why was an Ottawa man in Denver with Cyanide?

The mysterious death of an Ottawa man, Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, in a Denver hotel room this week looks at first sight to be part of a terrorist plot on the upcoming Democratic National Convention in that same city.

On Wednesday, Denver officials confirmed that the container found in his hotel room was in fact sodium cyanide. But at the same time, officials are also denying this is convention-related.

Denver police spokesman John White said Dirie's death appears to be an isolated incident and is not related to the Democratic National Convention.

White said no foul play is suspected, but he declined to provide specifics about what led investigators to that conclusion.

"I can't speak to evidence," White said.

Since local police appear to be ruling out this having anything to do with the convention, it will be interesting to see what exactly are the circumstances for this bizarre death.

So far there are no easy answers as the man's family in Ottawa is not talking to the media and are on their way to Denver, according to the local Ottawa CTV News affiliate.

Meanwhile, members of Ottawa's Somali community, which Dirie belonged to, are in shock after learning of his death.

"I don't know what happened. The community don't know what happened but I think the community do care. One of their members who travelled to Denver lost his life there," Abdirizak Karod told CTV Ottawa on Wednesday, adding that Dirie's family left for Denver immediately after learning of his death.

What's puzzling is while the family or somebody who knows the family told the community spokesman they were travelling to Denver, they did not give any simple explanation of why Dirie was in Denver or just exactly why he would be in a hotel room with sodium cyanide, a substance whose uses are limited to gold mining, pest control and entemology.

If there was a logical explanation, why didn't someone come forward with it? Families who lose their loved ones often don't talk to the media, but you always get some information when they die out of town like, "So and so was vacationing in the U.S. and planned to see his beloved Colorado Rockies play the Arizona Diamondbacks" or "so and so was visiting family" or "So and so was attending Entemologicon 2008 in Denver."

So if this is not terror-related -- as the Denver police are suggesting -- then some of the questions that will have to be answered in the coming days are ....

Why was Dirie in Denver?

What career or hobbies does he have that would require him to travel with cyanide?

24-hours after his death made international headlines these questions still have not been answered. Let me just say if one of my family members died and his death was being described in AP and Reuters stories around the world in the context of a terror plot, I would do everything I could to clear up his name if there was a simple explanation.

UPDATE: Jawa Report not buying the denials.