Al-Shabab Militants Kill American Who Cut Ties with Group
by VOA News
An American citizen who broke ties with the Somali militant group al-Shabab is reported to have been killed by the group’s fighters.
Former militants tell VOA’s Somali service that Omar Hammami died early Thursday when fighters attacked his hideout near the village of Shongoleh in Somalia’s Gedo region.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from al-Shabab, and Hammami was reported dead twice before, only to resurface alive and well.
The U.S. government has charged Hammami with providing material support to al-Shabab and offered up to $5 million for information leading to his capture.
In an telephone interview with VOA’s Somali Service nine days ago, Hammami said he had cut ties with al-Shabab and accused the group’s leader, Moktar Abu Zubayr, of seeking power at all costs.
“Basically he’s left the principles of our religion, and he turned the Shabab into an organization that oppresses every single Muslim in efforts to make him the next Siad Barre of Somalia,” Hammami said. “He wants to be the leader of Somalia regardless of whether he’s ruled by Sharia or any other law.”
Hammami said in the interview that al-Shabab was trying to kill him.
He also said he still considered himself a terrorist, and rejected the idea of speaking with or returning to the U.S.
Two other former militants were killed in Thursday’s attack — a Somali militant and a British national of Pakistani origin.
Hammami, 29, who comes from the U.S. state of Alabama, traveled to Somalia in 2006 and joined al-Shabab’s military wing. The FBI says that in 2007, after Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia, he joined the front lines as a fighter and eventually became a leader in al-Shabab.
He also served as a propagandist for the group, helping to recruit English-speaking youth through writings, rap songs, and televised statements.