MINNEAPOLIS – A noted Somali writer, whose role in Somali literature has been compared to Shakespeare's place in English, has been added to Hennepin County's "Ten Most Wanted" list for the rape of a 10-year-old girl a decade ago, authorities said.
Mahamud A. Isse, 72, of Minneapolis, is wanted on a felony bench warrant for criminal sexual conduct stemming from the alleged rape.
A phone number for Isse was not listed. Defense attorney Richard Cohen said he hasn't seen or heard from Isse in a few months.
"I have no idea where he is," Cohen said.
According to the criminal complaint, the alleged victim told police she came to the United States from Somalia in 1995 and lived with a woman who acted as her mother in Minneapolis. She said Isse, whom she then called "uncle," would bring her candy and treats when he visited her guardian.
The woman told police that when she was 10, Isse got into her bed and raped her, the complaint said. The woman, now in her 20s, moved to Washington state in 1997 and was back in Minneapolis for a visit in 2005 when she ran into Isse at the Somali Mall shopping center.
Isse gave her his phone number and said he wanted to see her again, the complaint said. She later called Isse and recorded their conversation, the complaint said. He allegedly admitted during the call that he had sex with her back when she was a child.
But when authorities interviewed Isse, the complaint said, he initially said he was joking during the phone call. But he ultimately admitted he fondled the girl's breasts and masturbated on her, the complaint alleged.
Isse has been free on bail, but he did not appear for a June 24 court date. He is believed to still be in the Minneapolis area, according to Hennepin County's Web site.
After Isse was charged, scores of Somalis showed up in support and rallied outside the county jail. Isse is considered by some to be a highly respected poet and author from the time when Somalia gained its independence in the 1960s until the country descended into civil war in 1991.