Somali Islamic centre eulogises American jihadi

2013-09-14 18:00

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Mogadishu - American jihadi Omar Hammami was murdered "in cold blood", said a Somalia-based Islamic centre, backing up reports that the rapping militant from Alabama was killed on Thursday by his rivals within the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab.

The Islamic World Issues Study Centre published a tribute online in which it describes the killings of Hammami, 29, and two other militants as a "tragedy," saying al-Shabaab should be "directing their arrows at the enemies of the group," according a report issued Saturday by the SITE Intel Group, an American private company that analyzes terror threats.

"Here they are today being killed in cold blood at the hands of those who belong to jihad ... and the world is watching," the tribute said, according SITE Intel.

"One wonders who will be next," the eulogy said. "And more importantly, who will be responsible for the blood of those brothers?"

Hammami, whose nom de guerre was Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, or "the American," was reported killed in southern Somalia following months on the run after falling out with al-Shabab's top leader. The extremist from Alabama had been reported dead before, only for him to resurface. Al-Shabaab rebels said on Thursday Hammami was slain in an ambush but presented no proof of his death.

Hammami was highly critical of al-Shabaab’s leadership in the past year and freely shared his views in Internet videos and on Twitter, making him a marked man. The first serious attempt on his life came in April, when al-Shabaab’s leader, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as Godane, ordered the killings of several of Hammami's associates.

Increasing tension

Hammami, an Arabic speaker, moved from Alabama to Somalia and joined the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab rebel group in about 2006. He fought alongside al-Shabaab until they had a falling out amid increasing tension between Somali and foreign fighters. He first expressed fear for his life in a March 2012 web video that publicised his rift with al-Shabaab.

Along with Adam Gadahn in Pakistan — a former Osama bin Laden spokesperson — Hammami was one of the two most notorious Americans in jihadi groups. The FBI put Hammami on its Most Wanted Terrorist list in 2012 and in March offered a $5m reward for information leading to his capture. US prosecutors had charged Hammami with providing material support to terrorists.

Hammami grew up in Daphne, Alabama, a community of 20 000 outside Mobile, the son of a Christian mother and a Syrian-born Muslim father. His YouTube videos that featured him rapping and his presence on Twitter made him one of the most recognisable and studied US foreign fighters.

Somalia has long been an attractive destination for foreign fighters, and al-Shabaab counts several hundred foreigners among its ranks, including about two dozen Somali-Americans from Minneapolis recruited over the past several years. Terrorism experts said Hammami's killing may discourage other would-be jihadis from the US and elsewhere from travelling to Somalia.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  al-qaeda  |  somalia  |  east africa

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