An american jihadist, Omar Hammami, known for his rap-infused propaganda videos for the Shabab, a brutal Islamist group in Somalia, was reported killed in an ambush on Thursday morning. If true, his death would bring to a close one of the more unusual chapters in more than two decades of american involvement in the Horn of Africa. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/world/africa/american-jihadist-is-believed-killed-by-ex-allies-in-somalia.html?ref=us
Mr. Hammami, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, “the American,” has been declared dead before, only to resurface alive.
J. M. Berger, the editor of the Web site Intelwire.com and author of the book “Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam,” said that it appeared this time that Mr. Hammami had indeed been killed.
The son of a Southern Baptist mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Mr. Hammami was raised in Daphne, Ala., where he was a gifted student and high school class president. He later embraced the ultraconservative form of Islam known as Salafism before ultimately moving to Somalia in 2006 to fight for the Shabab.
A resident of the village of Al Baate in southern Somalia, Hussein Nur, told Reuters that “well-armed fighters” attacked Mr. Hammami and his companions on Thursday morning. “After a brief fight al-Amriki and his two colleagues were killed,” Mr. Nur said.
Mr. Hammami was added to the most-wanted list of terrorism suspects last year, accused of “providing material support to terrorists” and “conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.” It said he “should be considered armed and dangerous.”
The charismatic American fighter was a propaganda coup for the Somali militants. He worked on recruitment and handled financial affairs for the group. But Mr. Hammami was more than just a YouTube sensation and back-office militant. He is believed to have personally commanded forces in the field and organized guerrilla attacks.
Growing up in Daphne, a city of 23,000 on Mobile Bay, Mr. Hammami loved Kurt Cobain and Nintendo and dabbled in drugs. But he also attended Bible camp. His decision to join a violent group responsible for beheadings and forced amputations was especially bewildering to family and friends.