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Sister: Man found dead at Denver hotel ‘not a terrorist’

Bill Scanlon
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” The Canadian man found dead next to a jar of cyanide in a Denver hotel room had schizophrenia, his family says, lending credence to the theory that he may have died of suicide.

The FBI and haz-mat teams got involved in the incident because cyanide can be used to make chemical weapons, and the foreign national had arrived in Denver shortly before the start of the Democratic National Convention.

Saleman Abdirahman Dirie’s body was found on Monday in his room on the fourth floor of the Burnsley Hotel at 1000 Grant St.



“He was not a terrorist,” Dirie’s sister told CanWest News Service on Wednesday from the family home in Ottawa. “We don’t want to hear that word. It is against our religion.”

The sister, who would not divulge her name, told CanWest that Saleman had been doing well with medication for the past three years to treat his schizophrenia and simply had gone to Denver on vacation.



“He was doing fine,” she said. “He was just a normal person.” She said he didn’t seem suicidal.

She told CanWest that her brother, Hassan Dirie, arrived in Denver on Wednesday to claim the body.

Sodium chloride is an ideal ingredient for making a chemical weapon but also is found in rat poison and such things as gold-plated watches.



The tell-tale odor of almonds indicated to investigators that Dirie may have died from exposure to cyanide.

Investigators still want to know why so much of it ” about a pound in crystal form ” was found in the room.

Meanwhile, the Denver medical examiner is awaiting results of lab tests before announcing an official cause of death.

Members of Ottawa’s Somali community expressed surprise that Dirie’s death is now the subject of so much concern among U.S. authorities.

A leader of Ottawa’s Somali community Abdirizak Karod, told the Ottawa Citizen, “It’s a tragic story. This is a good family.”

Karod said the Somali community in Ottawa has no radical Islamist elements. “It’s not our culture,” said Karod, who told the Ottawa Citizen that he knows Dirie’s brother, Hassan, and once met Saleman.


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