American Shabaab commander speaks at rally for Osama bin Laden in Somalia
Omar Hammami speaks at a rally in Afgoye. Reuters photo.
An American citizen who leads military forces for the al Qaeda-linked Shabaab in Somalia vowed to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden and said a global caliphate will soon be created. Omar Hammami's recent public appearance confirms reports by The Long War Journal that denied he was killed by Somali forces in early March.
Hammami, who is also known as Abu Mansoor al Amriki ("the American"), spoke at a public rally in Afgoye, an area south of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
Hammani is seen with other top Shabaab leaders, including Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour and Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. Hammami and the other top Shabaab leaders are seen sitting in the open, unafraid of being targeted by Somali or African Union forces.
"We are all Osama," Hammami told the crowd as he spoke at a podium, according to a translation of the speech, a portion of which was published by National Post. He also said that Shabaab and al Qaeda would continue their jihad to establish a global Islamic caliphate.
"Today, we remind the Muslims that the caliphate [Islamic rule] shall soon be reborn," Hammani said. "May Allah accept our dear beloved sheikh [Osama bin Laden] and cause our swords to become instruments of his avenging."
"We announce to America and to the world that Sheikh Osama bin Laden kindled the fire of jihad decades ago and in effect resistance is now of little value," Hammami continued.
Hammami's appearance in Afgoye has ended all questions of whether he was killed by Somali troops, as had been claimed by Somalia's defense minister on March 8.
Omar Hammami and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, at the rally in Afgoye.
The Long War Journal reported on March 15 that Hammami had not been killed in recent fighting in Mogadishu. And in early April, Hammami released a nasheed, or Islamic song, on the Al Qimmah Islamic Network, a propaganda outlet for the al Qaeda-linked Shabaab, which mocked reports of his death. On that tape, Hammami said he desired to die in a US strike, like other top al Qaeda leaders.
"Send me a cruise like Maa'lam Adam al Ansari, And send me a couple of tons like Zarqawi, And send me a drone like Abu Laith al Libi, And Special Forces like Saleh Ali Nabhan," the opening chorus of Hammami's clumsy rap-nasheed begins.
Hammami has released similar propaganda in the past. In May 2010, Hammami appeared in another awkward rap-nasheed, titled "First Stop Addis." In that rap, Hammami also claimed he sought to die a martyr.
"My number one goal... die a shaheed," or martyr, he repeated constantly in his May 2010 rap.
Background on Omar Hammami
Hammami is a US citizen from Alabama who converted to Islam and then traveled to Somalia in 2006. Once in Somalia, he quickly rose through the ranks, and now serves as a military commander. He is one of the many foreign commanders who hold senior leadership positions in Shabaab, which is al Qaeda's affiliate in East Africa. Hammami is one of 14 people indicted by the US Justice Department in August 2010 for providing material support to Shabaab.
Hammami also began appearing in Shabaab propaganda tapes. In a tape released in May 2010, Hammami stressed that Shabaab's war is not confined to Somalia but is global in nature. "From Somalia and Shiishaan (Chechnya), from Iraq and Afghanistan, gonna meet up in the Holy Lands, establishing Allah's Law on the land," Hammami says in a chorus repeated throughout the song. In the tape, Hammami and others identify their enemy as the "salib," or crusaders.
In February this year, the Somali government, backed by Ugandan and Burundian forces in the African Union, as well as Ethiopia, launched an offensive against Shabaab. Somalia's President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, claimed on March 7 that Shabaab "is on the verge of collapse" after the terror group was driven out of several strongholds in the capital of Mogadishu as well as in the Gedo region on the Kenyan border.
The government claimed that Shabaab lost more than 500 fighters during the offensive. But the African Union has suppressed information about heavy casualties to its own forces. On Mar. 4, it was reported that 53 African Union troops had been killed during the fighting. Although no estimates on the number of Somali troops killed have been released, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that Somali forces have suffered heavy casualties during the current fighting.