Shabaab said that Omar Hammami “is not endangered by the Mujahideen” and that it is “surprised” by a video released by the leader in which he said he feared for his life.
Shabaab denied that it presented any danger to Hammami, an American commander in the group who is also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, in statements released today on its Twitter account, HSM Press Office (or Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen).
“HSM is surprised by the video of Abu Mansoor #AlAmriki that surfaced on the internet recently claiming that his life is ‘endangered by HSM,'” the terror group said in one tweet.
“We assure our Muslim brothers that #AlAmriki is not endangered by the Mujahideen &our brother still enjoys all the privileges of brotherhood,” Shabaab said in another tweet.
In a final tweet, Shabaab said that a “formal investigation is just underway” and that it is “still attempting to verify the authenticity as well as the motivations behind the video.”
Shabaab is reacting to a video that was released yesterday on YouTube by a jihadist known as “somalimuhajirwarrior,” or “foreign Somali warrior,” in which Hammami said he he fears Shabaab may kill him due to differences with strategy and the implementation of Islamic law.
“To whomever it may reach from the Muslims, from Abu Mansour al-Amriki, I record this message today because I feel that my life may be endangered by Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahideen due to some differences that occurred between us regarding matters of the Shariah [Islamic law] and matters of the strategy,” Hammami stated in the video, according to a transcript of the statement that has been provided by the SITE Intelligence Group. [See LWJ report, American terrorist feels ‘life may be endangered’ by Shabaab.]
Hammami did not go into detail as to the specific cause of the dispute. Rumors have persisted of divisions in Shabaab over the influence of foreign fighters in the terror group. Shabaab officially merged with al Qaeda in early February after years of operating closely together.
According to the US government, Hammami has served as a military commander, propagandist, “recruitment strategist, and financial manager” for Shabaab, and is closely linked to al Qaeda. In July 2011, the US added Hammami to its list of specially designated global terrorists.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.