« PHOTO: Devotees in Mumbai | Main | Boston Marathon runners ask for 'second chance' in 2014 »

05/09/2013

Somalia's Omar Hammami: Life, death, Jodi Arias and Biebs

Images

Tracking the life and death of American rapper-wannabe-turned-jihadist Omar Hammami, aka: Abu Amriki, is to national security types, what the Jodi Arias trial is to a reality-television-obsessed public (thanks to friend and Star colleague Jennifer Quinn you can figure out who Arias is here and here.

Last year Hammami released his memoir where he waxed nostalgic about his love of Tim Hortons and his year living in Toronto. In March, the U.S. issued a $5 million bounty for his capture which made you wonder how Western forces couldn't find a guy who tweets about as much as Justin Bieber (just FYI, on May 9th at 7:30 a.m., Biebs wrote: "Gonna go on a walk." It was retweeted 29,805 times and counting. Hammami, who goes by @abumamerican on Twitter has only 2,900 "followers").

Spencer Ackermann wrote a great profile where Hammami talks about his very public split with some of Somalia's Al Shabab leaders. Hammami has been chatting on Twitter with various national security analysts, both publicly and privately, describing the inner workings of the group and at one point offering details about the death of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Osama bin Laden's top leader in East Africa. (His account seemed to confirm what security sources told the Star in 2012.)

He had been privately writing the Star too, describing how he knew Canadian university student Mahad Dhore, who reportedly led a team of suicide bombers in Mogadishu last month. 

On April 25, he live tweeted what he claimed was an assassination attempt and then posted the photo (above) of a bullet wound in his neck.

Now his Twitter feed has gone silent and there are unconfirmed reports that he was killed by other Shabab members. Fuad Shangole reportedly announced his death, although the claim has since been disputed (Star readers will recall Shangole as one of Ismail Khalif Abdulle's captors. Ismail was the teenager whose hand and foot were amputated because he wouldn't join the Shabab. He is now living in Norway thanks to the efforts of concerned readers).

Some analysts with time to kill apparently (sorry Clint) have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to get at the truth by analyzing the veracity of the tweets about his death.

It has seemed for awhile now that Hammami is living on borrowed time - hunted not just by Somali and Western forces but also by those he once considered allies. One thing is certain. If Hammami is indeed still alive, he's sure to tell us soon enough.

Michelle Shephard is the Star's National Security correspondent and author of "Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone." She is a three-time recipient of Canada's National Newspaper Award. Follow her on Twitter @shephardm

 




Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

The World Daily

  • The Star's foreign desk covers the best stories from the around the globe, updated throughout the day.