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February 26, 2013 0

Al Shabaab Highlights Global Role in New Video

Al Shabaab, the Soma­lia branch of Al Qaeda, released a new English-language and English-subtitled video yes­ter­day directed at West­ern audiences. 

The video, “Mujahideen Moments,” high­lights the role of for­eign fight­ers in the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, fea­tur­ing state­ments and speeches by two Kenyans and an Amer­i­can, iden­ti­fied only as “Abu Ahmed al-Amriki.”

Abu Ahmed’s face is obscured in the video and it is impos­si­ble at this point to ver­ify his true iden­tity.  Abu Ahmed urges lis­ten­ers to join the bat­tle­fronts “whether it’s here in Soma­lia, whether it’s in Mali, whether it’s in Afghanistan, whether it’s in Iraq, or whether it’s in Al-Maghrib Al-Islami [North Africa],” say­ing that they should fight because there are no excuses from the oblig­a­tion of jihad.  He also promises vic­tory and that “Amer­ica is going down, and the Khi­lafah [Caliphate] is rising.”

The video encour­ages for­eign­ers to join jihad, or if they can­not travel, to “fight the ene­mies of Allah where you find them.”

While Al Shabaab has long used for­eign fight­ers in its pro­pa­ganda to attract West­ern recruits, the video seems to be, in part, a response to its for­mer Amer­i­can spokesper­son, Omar Ham­mami. Ham­mami appar­ently split with the group over his belief that it was inter­ested only in local pol­i­tics and the fight in Soma­lia, rather than the cause of a global ”jiahd of the entire Ummah [Mus­lim nation].” In mes­sages released late last year, Ham­mami high­lighted the ten­sions between “the muha­jireen [Arabs and for­eign fight­ers] and the Ansar [local sup­port­ers of Al Shabaab].”

By fea­tur­ing for­eign fight­ers in the video, espe­cially Abu Ahmed, Al Shabaab may be try­ing to counter Hammami’s alle­ga­tions and show that it main­tains a sig­nif­i­cant inter­na­tional sup­port base.

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December 12, 2012 0

Shabaab Spokesman’s “Close Friend” Arrested

Two Amer­i­can cit­i­zens resid­ing in Alabama were arrested yes­ter­day in Geor­gia on sus­pi­cion of terrorism-related activity.

Randy “Rasheed” Wil­son was arrested in Atlanta attempt­ing to board a flight to Morocco. Wil­son allegedly claimed to be a close friend of Omar Ham­mami, the Alabama native who became the pub­lic face of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion. His co-conspirator, Moham­mad Abukhdair, was arrested at a bus sta­tion en route to Canada from where he report­edly planned to join Wil­son.  Both were charged with con­spir­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to ter­ror­ists in an Alabama fed­eral court on Monday.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Wil­son and Abukhdair expressed their admi­ra­tion for rad­i­cal American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Osama bin Laden, as well as repeat­ing their com­mit­ment to carry out vio­lent jihad, to an under­cover FBI employee.  They even turned over a cache of jihadist pro­pa­ganda, includ­ing Awlaki lec­tures, to the under­cover employee for destruc­tion. Wil­son, who is 25, appar­ently believed that “one way or another everyone’s gonna have to fight… there’s no deed bet­ter than jihad,” accord­ing to the tran­scripts of recorded con­ver­sa­tions sub­mit­ted to the court.

Wil­son had pre­vi­ously report­edly con­spired with another mutual friend of Hammami’s (who later became a con­fi­den­tial infor­mant) to travel to Soma­lia to join Al Shabaab. Abukhdair had been detained by Egypt­ian author­i­ties on sus­pi­cion of involve­ment in ter­ror­ist activ­ity and was deported back to the United States.  He appar­ently admit­ted to the under­cover FBI employee that he had jihadist mate­r­ial on his lap­top at the time and believed that “Allah pro­tected him” because Egypt­ian intel­li­gence had not found it.

The two men, who met online in 2010, sup­pos­edly dis­cussed sev­eral pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tions, includ­ing trav­el­ing to Soma­lia via Sudan, where they report­edly expected spe­cial treat­ment because of Wilson’s rela­tion­ship with Ham­mami. Abukhdair alter­na­tively pro­posed that they carry out attacks in the United States because he feared he would not be allowed to travel inter­na­tion­ally after being turned away from a flight to Jor­dan ear­lier this year.  Accord­ing to the charges, Abukhdair allegedly sug­gested engag­ing in hostage-taking oper­a­tions in the U.S. and demand­ing the release of Mus­lim ter­ror­ists being held in Amer­i­can pris­ons in exchange.

The court doc­u­ments assert that Wil­son and Abukhdair made def­i­nite travel arrange­ments to go to Mau­ri­ta­nia via Morocco in Octo­ber. The two also report­edly dis­cussed trav­el­ing to Mali from Mau­ri­ta­nia where Islamic mil­i­tants are active in the north of the country.

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May 23, 2012 0

Alabama Jihadist Omar Hammami Resurfaces Online

Update: An audio lec­ture by Ham­mami posted online on May 25 may pro­vide insights into his appar­ent rift with Al Shabaab.  In the 45-minute lec­ture, orig­i­nally posted online in Jan­u­ary but quickly removed, he crit­i­cizes jihadist orga­ni­za­tions with a local focus, liken­ing them to a “can­cer­ous tumor.” He also calls for all Mus­lims to unite in a “jihad of the entire Ummah [Mus­lim nation]” under the ban­ner of restored Caliphate. 

Amid rumors of his death and his own dec­la­ra­tion that his “life may be endan­gered by” the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion he joined in Soma­lia, Omar Ham­mami, an Alabama native who became the pub­lic face and voice of Al Shabaab, announced that he is still alive in part 1 of his autobiography.

In the auto­bi­og­ra­phy, dis­sem­i­nated online on May 16, Ham­mami describes his jour­ney from Alabama to his involve­ment in the cre­ation of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked Somali ter­ror­ist group.

He calls join­ing jihad “the dream of any Mus­lim who has the love of the reli­gion burn­ing in his heart” and main­tains that it is “truly an indi­vid­ual oblig­a­tion upon all of us.” Ham­mami por­trays him­self as “a man with no regrets” despite his appar­ent falling out with Al Shabaab’s leadership.

In describ­ing his role as a ter­ror­ist pro­pa­gan­dist, Ham­mami advises that “being casual, when pos­si­ble, is a bet­ter approach when reach­ing out to those like myself in the West… my peers can smell a poser from a mile away.” He also stresses the impor­tance of media to the jihadist move­ment. “The war of nar­ra­tives has become even more impor­tant than the war of navies, napalms, and knives.

Ham­mami also dis­cusses his rela­tion­ship with Daniel Mal­don­ado, an Amer­i­can cur­rently serv­ing 10 years in prison for receiv­ing mil­i­tant train­ing in Soma­lia with him after they trav­eled together to the Mid­dle East.

Ham­mami con­cludes part 1 by urg­ing oth­ers to emu­late him. “Not that I’m extremely spe­cial, but then again I haven’t seen too many mid­dle class ‘white’ guys from Alabama in Jihaad these days. Hope­fully oth­ers will say to them­selves: ‘I can do that too!’”

On May 22, a photo of Ham­mami pos­ing with a com­puter dis­play­ing the auto­bi­og­ra­phy was released online, osten­si­bly to con­firm that he is indeed still alive and that the auto­bi­og­ra­phy is authentic.

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