It was March 2009, and 17-year-old Burhan Hassan's family was very worried. Burhan vanished without a trace from his Minneapolis apartment on November 4, 2008. He had gone to his native country of Somalia - a country his family had left when he was just an infant - to join al-Shabaab's brutal war to overthrow the Somali government.

Burhan periodically called home to tell his family that he was "safe" and not to worry about him. But this call to his mother had a different tone. It had an urgent - even desperate – emotional quality that family members had not previously heard.

His message? That family members who had gone public with their concerns about him and the nearly 20 other Somalis who disappeared from the Minneapolis area since September 2007 could be putting his life in jeopardy.

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