US posts $5 million reward for American suspected of being Zawahiri's emissary to Shabaab



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The US State Department's Rewards for Justice program posted $5 million rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of two Americans who have served in leadership positions in Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia. One of the Americans, Jehad Serwan Mostafa, is believed to have served as an emissary for Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's emir, the FBI told The Long War Journal. The other, Omar Hammami, is currently engaged in a personal dispute with Shabaab.

The $5 million rewards offered for Mostafa and Hammami match that of 37 other terrorists in the Rewards for Justice program. The program offers a higher reward for only seven other terrorist leaders and operatives. Ayman al Zawahiri tops the list at $25 million.

Mostafa "has performed various functions for al Shabaab, including acting as a training camp instructor and a leader of foreign fighters," the Rewards for Justice fact sheet stated. "He is also skilled in the group's media activities." In 2005, he left California and traveled to Somalia to wage jihad. "He may have or is likely to visit the following areas: Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Kenya, and other African countries," the statement continued.

In October 2009, Mostafa was charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and conspiracy to support terrorists and foreign terrorist groups.

Mostafa is also known as Emir Anwar, Ahmed Gurey, and Anwar al-Amriki. But one other nom de guerre that he goes by is Abu Abdullah al Muhajir, which is the same name used by the representative of Ayman al Zawahiri who distributed aid to Shabaab [see LWJ report, American al Qaeda operative distributes aid at Somali relief camp].

In November 2011, Abu Abdullah al Muhajir was seen on a Shabaab propaganda videotape that showed him distributing aid to Somalis at a relief camp just south of the capital of Mogadishu.

Muhajir was photographed with most of his face, except for his eyes, covered, along with Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, Shabaab's top spokesman. He handed out food, clothing, and Korans to Somalis at the camps. Muhajir said he was distributing the aid on behalf of Zawahiri. Just two months after the release of the tape, Shabaab officially merged with al Qaeda.

The Long War Journal asked the FBI unit that investigates Shabaab if it believes that Mostafa and Abu Abdullah al Muhajir are the same person. A spokesperson for the FBI's Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit responded: "Yes we do."

$5 million reward for Omar Hammami

The Rewards for Justice program has also offered a $5 million reward for Omar Hammami, the notorious American from Alabama who has fallen from grace with Shabaab after launching a public and personal feud with the terror group [see LWJ report, Omar Hammami's personal dispute with Shabaab].

Hammami, who is better known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, is the most well-known foreign fighter in Somalia. Hammami occupied a prominent place in Shabaab's propaganda arm. He also served as a recruiter, financier, and military commander. He was even seen with Shabaab's top leaders at a public eulogy for slain al Qaeda emir and founder Osama bin Laden in May 2011. The US added him to the list of specially designated global terrorists in July 2011.

But after Abu Abdullah al Muhajir (whom the FBI believes to be Mostafa) appeared in the video in November 2011, Hammami's star was in decline. In early 2012, Hammami released a video claiming his life was in danger and said that foreigner fighters are at odds with Shabaab's leaders. Shabaab has disputed the claims, and has countered that Hammami is a narcissistic self-promoter who has taken advantage of his high-profile media presence to sow dissent between the Somali group and foreign fighters. Other than Hammami's claims, there is little evidence to support the assertion that there is a split between Shabaab and the "muhajireen," or immigrants or foreign fighters.



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READER COMMENTS: "US posts $5 million reward for American suspected of being Zawahiri's emissary to Shabaab"

Posted by SgtJim (@sgt_jim) at March 22, 2013 6:45 AM ET:

today twit:

abu m @abumamerican

If being wanted dead by both u.s. and shabab has something to do w/my patchy beard, fake beards are something negotiable
9:54 AM - 22 Mar 13

Posted by Birbal Dhar at March 22, 2013 8:06 AM ET:

I would be interesting to know whether this Jehad Mostafa is an ethnic Arab or a muslim convert. He looks very European looking, but mind you there are some Arabs who do look very European. I do hope one day we get more information on Jehad Mostafa's background, just like we did on Omar Hammami

Posted by mike merlo at March 22, 2013 11:55 AM ET:

Reminds me of "yesteryear" when Che Guevara served as an inspiration for many throughout the Western Hemisphere & parts of Africa & Eurasia particularly Europe. History has taught us that these people usually end up dead or captured. Many times because one of the 'core members' has decided to 'out' that individual for various reason's.

Posted by Mr T at March 22, 2013 12:54 PM ET:

high-profile media presence.

They just want fame and to be somebody. Religion is just an excuse to be important. Giving these clowns media adoration drives thier ambitions.

Posted by Witch Doctor at March 23, 2013 12:36 AM ET:

If it would do any good to kill these two do it, but I think it would be a waste of resources spent better elsewhere. Look at Northeastern Africa.

Posted by cbstewart at March 23, 2013 1:21 AM ET:

It is more important to identify "who is Jehad Mostafa"
and why he is running such obnoxious activity against us?. His identity still in darkness.

Posted by billy at March 23, 2013 12:36 PM ET:

Let's be honest, the whole aid from AQ, and being Zawahiri's emissary was propaganda bs. Mustafa almost certainly had no contact with AQSL, he (and Shabab as a group) were trying to claim that the muj could provide for the people as well as western aid orgs. Recall that the video appeared when Shabab kicked out all the aid orgs in the middle of a famine.

Don't buy their bs, the only time Mustafa has met or represented AQSL is in his wildest dreams.

Posted by g at March 23, 2013 2:36 PM ET:

I don't think Mostafa looks European. I think he looks Semitic. He would fit right in in Brooklyn or Monsey, NY.

Posted by gb at March 23, 2013 2:46 PM ET:

It wouldn't surprise me to see someone, either local warlord, or Somali pirate affiliate try to cash in on this offer. Those guys are pretty greedy, as evidenced by their apparent willingness to ransom everything from ships to hostages.

Posted by Smith at March 24, 2013 2:45 PM ET:

Witch Doctor, why don't you link an al Qaeda site next time full of trojans or other malware.

What did a site from Kandahar, Afghanistan complaining about the Kabul government & multi-national forces have to do with a story on Al Shabab terrorists making the Most Wanted list?

Other than maybe as a fishing expedition