Dead Somalian Canadian Man Found with Pound of Cyanide in Denver: Weeks from US Democratic Convention
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
The odour of almonds led to the discovery of a Canadian man's death in a Denver hotel room, mere blocks from the Colorado state Capital.
Police are not saying much upon discovering a pound of cyanide beside the man. What someone would be doing with a pound of cyanide, raises many questions, when some believe perhaps a coincidence considering it is two weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Another question is , why would this man clearly out of the blue pick Denver to visit? It seems he had no friends there. What is someone with apparently no knowledge of chemistry, no friends in Denver, get a hold of a pound of Cyanide?
The man's family in Canada, say their son Saleman Abdirahman Dirie had mental problems, schizophrenia being one of them, was a good boy according to family members.
Now I am no Doctor, but the smell of almonds on the body and hotel room leads me to conclude someone opened the jar, took a whiff and died.
I am also not a terrorism expert, but it would be interesting to get a hold of any computer and emails he may have had access to here in Canada at his home, nearby library etc, and perhaps in Denver at nearby libraries or hotel.
Cyanide can take out a lot of people when made into a lethal gas, dispersed into a crowd in which those exposed will find medical help useless, and death a few hours away.
One thing is clear, regardless what Police, FBI and others say there is no proof of terrorism.
My question is why would someone travel to Denver out of the blue, to Die?
How could anyone, let alone a stranger from Canada get a hold of a pound of cyanide? Most likely he was given it by someone in Denver!
It is not like you can walk into a Denver Chemical company and get a pound of cyanide at the Lab. Is this where he got it? If so by whom? If not, where did he get it?
I checked Denver papers, no particular unrest or problems between Canada or Somalia and Denver connection?
The National Democratic Convention two weeks away seems plausible as a value target, though why the democrats is anyones guess?
My final assessment is after all the unanswered questions is this, the man or his associates who gave him a pound of cyanide had nefarious purposes in mind, and you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes, or even particularly bright to figure that one out!
Certainly the FBI and RCMP should be able to know the reality of this scenario, except who the intended target was if not the National Democratic Convention. Of course perhaps, they are downplaying this event so as not to scare National Democratic Conventioneers, especially the speakers like Hillary and Obama, not to mention the Big Money this convention brings to the city of Denver. If I were Obama, I would do the Convention via Teleconference from his home.
I have a feeling something is going on, not to be paranoid, but I would be in another state during this time. But then that is just me!
No real mystery there now, is there? Unless the mystery turns out that Schizophrenics are allowed to walk into any Chemical Manufacturing Plant and get a pound of sodium cyanide "No questions Asked"?
'He was a very good boy' Denver cops say bizarre death of Ottawa man an 'isolated incident'
By KENNETH JACKSON AND JON WILLING, SUN MEDIA
The mystery deepens in the case of an Ottawa man found dead in an upscale Denver hotel room -- a pound of highly toxic sodium cyanide in a jar beside him.
More than a week ago, Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, 29, told his Somalian family out of the blue that he was leaving to vacation in Denver.
On Monday, he was found in a fourth-floor room at the ritzy Burnsley Hotel about four blocks from the Colorado state Capitol. He had been dead for several days.
Yesterday in Ottawa, a west-end family was struggling to understand what happened. They said it's a mystery to them how the "very good boy" ended up where he did.
U.S. authorities -- including Denver Police, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force -- were also trying to unravel the mystery.
Why Dirie had the substance in the first place is unclear and Denver Police are not calling the death a homicide, suicide or even suspicious.
They are conducting a death investigation but have found nothing to suggest foul play. "It's an isolated incident," said Denver Police Det. John White.
He said they are still waiting for the coroner's report to determine how to proceed but emphasized "it's still a very active investigation.
" White said it's still too early to say whether Dirie's death was a suicide. The Denver medical examiner's office won't be able to determine whether cyanide killed Dirie until toxicology reports are done.
The FBI has been examining possible security issues, given that a foreign national was found dead with a hazardous substance, just two weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
NO APPARENT CONNECTION FBI Special Agent Kathy Wright said yesterday there was no apparent connection to terrorism.
"Because of the suspicious nature of the death and the substance -- it leads to a lot of questions," Wright said. "We can't comment on where the investigation might be leading us.
" RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Pat Flood confirmed that the Mounties are assisting U.S. authorities with the probe.
"The RCMP is aware of the situation," Flood said.
The Dirie family came to Ottawa as refugees in the early 1990s and have become Canadian citizens.
Yesterday, a neighbour said Dirie was a good man who didn't say much. "No issues with the police or with neighbours.
He was quiet," said Jone Shakka, 49, a professional dancer with the Ottawa 67's hockey club. He smiled when he described Dirie's frame as similar to the character Fat Albert.
A female family member said Dirie was smart and had attended university before dropping out because of diabetes and mental health concerns.
Dirie's father died about two years ago of complications from diabetes. She said he kept to himself since leaving school. He spent most of his days reading inside his mother's home.
"He was a very good boy," said a family member, while Dirie's mother sat a few feet away surrounded by friends and family.
Sodium cyanide is readily commercially available and possession is not illegal. It has a telltale odour of almonds and that's what alerted officials to its presence in the Dirie case.
Noticing a container in the room and smelling almonds around Dirie's body, police realized they might have an unusual situation and the coroner smelled almonds during the autopsy.
Cyanide can be used to make a chemical weapon. Robert Emery, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said a pound of cyanide could be used as a weapon if it's mixed with acid and released as a gas into an enclosed space.
In 1995, terrorists attempted that method in the restroom of the Shinjuku subway station in Tokyo.
"A pound of (cyanide) salts mixed with acids could make a significant amount of gas and could affect hundreds of people," he said.
Here is a comprehensive background on the man found dead below:
Cyanide victim 'not a terrorist': family
Ottawa man with schizophrenia was in Denver on a vacation, sister says
Andrew Seymour, Andrew Duffy, Gary Dimmock and Neco, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008
OTTAWA - An Ottawa man whose mysterious death in a Denver hotel room is under investigation by the FBI was diagnosed with schizophrenia three years ago, his family revealed yesterday.
Preliminary autopsy results show Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, 29, may have died from exposure to cyanide, a rapidly acting chemical described by one expert as "the ideal terrorist weapon.
" Denver police confirmed yesterday that the jar of white powder found in Mr. Dirie's hotel room contained sodium cyanide, the crystal form of the chemical.