The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

MOGADISHU (AFP) – A U.S. Islamist fighting in Somalia was killed Thursday in a shootout with Al-Qaeda linked Shebab militants, former comrades he had fallen out with, witnesses said.

Alabama-born Omar Hammami — better known as Al-Amriki or “the American” — was one of the most prominent foreigners fighting in Somalia, and the U.S. State Department had offered a $5 million (3.8 million euro) bounty for his capture.

“There was a gun battle between Amriki and his men and other fighters, the reports are that Amriki is among those killed,” said Moalim Ali, a resident in Bardhere, a small settlement in southern Somalia.

Two other extremists were also killed in the battle, including one other foreigner.

There were conflicting reports of the latter’s identity, with some reporting he was Egyptian, others suggesting he may have been British or Pakistani.

“Amriki and two other fighters, one of them foreigner, have been killed near Bardhere,” said Mohamed Wardhere, another resident.

There was no immediate response from the Shebab.

Hammami, 29, moved to Somalia in 2006 and began to work for Shebab recruiting young trainees through his English-language rap songs and videos.

Jerky videos showed him enthusiastically promoting the Shebab’s battle to overthrow the internationally backed government, but he later fell out with top Shebab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, for whom the U.S. has offered $7 million.

Hammami, who referred to himself as the “former poster boy” of the group, accused Godane of betraying the former presumed chief of Al-Qaeda in east Africa, Fazul Abdullah Muhammad, leading to his killing in 2011 in Somalia.

Fazul is thought to have planned the 1998 truck bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and had a $5 million bounty on his head.

In turn, the Shebab accused Amriki of “spreading discord and disunity” and a “narcissistic pursuit of fame”.

He had previously warned of assassination attempts against him, and posted forlorn photographs on his Twitter account posing with automatic rifles, his lank hair held back by a checked headscarf.

Somalia’s Shebab have lost a string of key towns to a 17,700-strong African Union force, fighting alongside government troops.

The death of Hammami makes him the latest extremist to be killed by infighting within the group, and will bolster Godane’s control.

Abdi Aynte, head of the Somali think-tank the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, said that if confirmed, Hammami’s death would mean the “anti-Godane alliance is almost neutralised”.

In June, Godane’s men killed two co-founders of the group, one with one with a $5 million U.S. bounty, Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, better known by his nickname Al-Afghani — “the Afghan”.

Veteran Islamist leader Hassan Dahir Aweys, allied to the Shebab since 2010, also fled Godane’s purge after criticising his rule, and has since been placed under arrest in the capital Mogadishu.

Inside the Shebab, some are more attracted by a nationalist agenda to oust foreign forces from Somalia, while others — including Godane — are seen as having more global jihadi ambitions.

But despite its divisions, analysts say it remains a dangerous and powerful force.

U.N. Monitoring Group reports in July estimated the Shebab are still some 5,000 strong, and remain the “principal threat to peace and security to Somalia”.

Photo Credit: AFP/Ho

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Donald Trump
Youtube Screenshot

Allies of former President Donald Trump have advised members of the Republican Party to cool down their inflammatory rhetoric toward the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation following the execution of a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday.

Trump supporters, right-wing pundits, and lawmakers have been whipped into a frenzy over what Trump called a "raid" by federal agents in pursuit of classified documents removed from the White House during Trump's departure from office.

Keep reading... Show less

Former President Donald Trump

Youtube Screenshot

On August 20, 2022, Donald Trump will have been gone from the White House for 19 months. But Trump, unlike other former presidents, hasn’t disappeared from the headlines by any means — and on Monday, August 8, the most prominent topic on cable news was the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in South Florida. Countless Republicans, from Fox News hosts to Trump himself, have been furiously railing against the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). And in an article published by Politico on August 11, reporters Kyle Cheney and Meridith McGraw describe the atmosphere of “paranoia” and suspicion that has become even worse in Trumpworld since the search.

“A wave of concern and even paranoia is gripping parts of Trumpworld as federal investigators tighten their grip on the former president and his inner circle,” Cheney and McGraw explain. “In the wake of news that the FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump’s allies and aides have begun buzzing about a host of potential explanations and worries. Among those being bandied about is that the search was a pretext to fish for other incriminating evidence, that the FBI doctored evidence to support its search warrant — and then planted some incriminating materials and recording devices at Mar-a-Lago for good measure — and even that the timing of the search was meant to be a historical echo of the day President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}