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May 23, 2012

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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February 16, 2012

Al Shabaab Formally Joins Al Qaeda against “Crusader Zionist Campaign”

Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab, a terrorist group seeking to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, have issued a joint communique announcing the formal merger of their groups.

While Al Shabaab had previously announced its alignment with Al Qaeda in 2010, and its leaders had repeatedly sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, it is the first time Zawahiri has commented on the “joining of the Mujahideen Al Shabaab Movement in Somalia to Al Qaeda in support of the gathering jihad against the Crusader Zionist campaign.”
Al Shabaab’s Kenyan affiliate, the Muslim Youth Center, which has claimed responsibility for several grenade attacks in Kenya, also announced on its blog that it had joined Al Qaeda to form the core of a newly reconstituted Al Qaeda in East Africa.
Approximately 40 Americans have traveled to Somalia to fight with Al Shabaab since 2007, including at least three American suicide bombers. Omar Hammami, an American citizen from Alabama, has become a key online propagandist for the group.

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