x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Fighting former Al Shabab comrades, American readies for his final stand

Alabama-born Omar Hamami once fought alongside Al Shabab in Somalia, but last year fell out with the fighters who now want to kill him.

NAIROBI // An American extremist in Somalia is fighting former comrades in the Al Shabab insurgent group, in what he says may be his last stand, he tweets.

Alabama-born Omar Hamami — better known as Al Amriki or "The American" — once fought alongside the Al Qaeda-linked hardliners in Somalia, but last year fell out with the fighters who now want to kill him.

He is also wanted by the US government, who have placed a US$5 million (Dh18.3m) bounty on his head and is listed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

"We were forced to fight in self defence and killed three and wounded others," he wrote in a message on Twitter, posted last night.

"May not find another chance to Tweet but just remember what we said and what we stood for. God kept me alive to deliver the message to the ummah."

Mr Hamami, 28, moved to Somalia in 2006 and began to work for Shabab recruiting young trainees through his English-language rap songs and videos, but later split from the main wing.

"They raided our houses and took our stuff, and said they found condoms, alcohol, and documents," he added, writing from an undisclosed location in Somalia. "Their goal is to kill us regardless of reason."

Last week he claimed a Shabab gunmen tried to assassinate him while he was drinking tea in a cafe, posting a photograph of himself dripping with blood from where he said the pistol bullet grazed his throat.

"They are sending forces from multiple directions," he wrote last week. "We are few but might get back up."

Born in 1984 to a Syrian Muslim father and a Protestant mother, Mr Hamami was raised as a Christian but began to feel estranged from his upbringing as teenager before moving to Somalia.

"'I'm on a mission from God', minus the blues music", he wrote last week, an apparent reference to the 1980 Blues Brothers film, an American musical comedy.