Omar Hammami says ‘friction’ exists between Shabaab, foreign fighters

A videotape of Omar Hammami in which he urges “commanders of jihad and the honorable scholars” to intervene to resolve “friction” between foreign fighters and Somali members of Shabaab was released on the Internet yesterday. Hammami, the American terrorist also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, who has served as a Shabaab military commander, propagandist, recruiter, and fundraiser, has previously stated that his life is in danger.

The videotape, titled “An Urgent Message,” was released on the YouTube account of somalimuhajirwarrior, the same account used to upload other statements since March. Hammami’s statement, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, is in Arabic.

The videotape was recorded at the same time as the March 16, 2012 video in which Hammami claimed he was in danger but did not specify why [see LWJ report, American terrorist feels ‘life may be endangered’ by Shabaab]. In both videos, Hammami appears against the exact same backdrop (seated in front of an al Qaeda flag pinned to a white wall), is wearing the same clothes, and the AK-47 is positioned in the same spot.

In the videotape that was released yesterday, Hammami warns of a “bitter state of being that surrounds the emigrants of Somalia,” a reference to foreign fighters or al Qaeda, and asks jihadists, clerics, and commanders to intervene with “a radical solution.”

Hammami says that historically “a type of friction” exists “between the people of the global jihad and the people of the local way of thinking.”

“I witnessed important parts of this history during my friction with the men of al Qaeda like Abu Talha al Sudani, Abu Abdullah al Sudani, Abu Mansour al Bayhani, Saleh al Nabhan, and Abu Fadl al Qamri,” Hammami says, naming top al Qaeda leaders in East Africa who have been killed over the past several years. “The conflict that was taking place in Somalia between those men and between the emirs of [unclear] is still continuing, after some were captured and the majority martyred.”

Hammami says that personal and religious differences have fueled the conflicts between the groups, and warns that the faction that seeks to wage “global jihad” may lose.

“We are afraid that this conflict might end soon in the favor of those who don’t want the battalions of global jihad to take off from the Land of the Two Emigrations [Somalia] to bother the disbelievers and destroy their interests around the world. Worse than that, we are afraid that this end will come in an unfavorable way of oppression, imprisonment and domestic fighting,” he says.

Although rumors of tensions between Somali Shabaab commanders and foreign al Qaeda leaders in Shabaab have been reported in the past, there is no evidence that the groups have come to blows due to the differences. Shabaab officially merged with al Qaeda in early February after years of operating closely together. Many top Shabaab leaders have been members of al Qaeda.

Hammami himself has been rumored to have been killed or imprisoned by Shabaab after releasing the March 16 video, but he released an autobiography on May 16, which was signed “Still alive and well (by May 16 2012), Omar Hammami, Somaalia.” Eight days later, a picture of Hammami posing with his autobiography was released.

On the following day, May 25, Hammami released a four-part statement calling for jihadists to declare a global Islamic caliphate.

Background on Omar Hammami

Hammami has served as a military commander, propagandist, “recruitment strategist, and financial manager” for Shabaab, and is closely linked to al Qaeda, according to the US government. Hammami is on the US’s list of specially designated global terrorists.

In May 2011, Hammami spoke at a public rally with other top Shabaab leaders to eulogize Osama bin Laden just 10 days after the death of the al Qaeda leader. During the rally, Hammani appeared with other top al Qaeda-linked Shabaab leaders, including Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.

“We are all Osama,” Hammami told the crowd as he spoke at a podium. 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 while eulogizing bin Laden. “May Allah accept our dear beloved sheikh [Osama bin Laden] and cause our swords to become instruments of his avenging.”

Hammami has played a crucial role in Shabaab’s propaganda efforts to recruit Western fighters to join Shabaab’s jihad in Somalia. In December 2011 and January 2012, Hammami appeared in photographs with a Western fighter. The Long War Journal identified the fighter as Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, an American who recruited for the terror group and left the US in October 2009 to wage jihad in Somalia. Faarax is wanted by the FBI.

Hammami was reported to have been killed in a US airstrike in March 2011, but one month later he released a nasheed, or song, that mocked the reports. In the clumsy rap, Hammami said he wanted to die in a US airstrike or special operations raid, like top al Qaeda leaders Abu Laith al Libi, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, and Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

For more information on Hammami, see LWJ reports, American Shabaab commander speaks at rally for Osama bin Laden in Somalia and US adds American, Kenyan Shabaab leaders to list of designated terrorists.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • gb says:

    So he wants die at the hands of CAS or in an SF strike? I say we oblige him.

  • jayc says:

    Looks like Omar Al-Alabami sees another Al Qaeda defeat.

  • mike merlo says:

    this structural fallacy of Islamic ‘harmony’ & ‘The Religion Of Peace’ has been repeatedly cited numerous times since the US has militarily engaged the many fronts in which the Islamic Internationale has surfaced. Islam has been at odds with itself since its inception. Tension, violence, murder & assassination are as much a part of Islam’s ‘DNA’ as anything else one may deign as Islam’s ‘many’ Pillars.

  • Nabad Doon says:

    This man is an arrogant criminal and a rapist.
    His latest crime was when 2 months ago he raped a deaf girl in Merka before he and his thugs moved to Brava.
    He is currently hiding in BRAVA coastal city between Merka and Kismayo. Watch the video very careful, he is in Brava 1) the white washed walls are the ones of Brava 2) there are chickens in the background (the are no chickens in the harsh nomadic land of Bay/Bakool nor of Gedo where some Al Shabaab members are hiding). He is not in Kismayo since the AMISOM force is conducting house-to-house search. Brava is where some of the Al Shabaab leaders are still controlling that town

  • Baahalow says:

    Majority of Foreign Fighters in Somalia were CIA agents and their intentions was not jihad or to topple a government , They were simply there following the orders of CIA, which in turn gave USA a chance to kill More senior Alqaeda leaders in Somalia than Elsewhere using Drone Strikes.

  • omar says:

    they are on the brink of collapsing……. though they are still a force in some places,, they commit a cuicide bomber, the somali Goverment undrestood whay the young somalis tend to join Al shabab whlist they pay nothing for them, cos some clans want to take a revenge on other clans, using the muslim name as a political tool, some have joined them coz of the prolonged crisis in somalia, which did not seem to be put an end 2 years ago,


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