News / Africa

‘American al-Shabab’ Disavows Militant Group, al-Qaida

In this undated image released by the FBI, Omar Shafik Hammami is shown on the FBI's list of "most wanted terrorists."
In this undated image released by the FBI, Omar Shafik Hammami is shown on the FBI's list of "most wanted terrorists."
VOA News
An American citizen who joined the Somali militant group al-Shabab said he no longer is a member of that group or al-Qaida, although he still considers himself a terrorist.

Omar Hammami said in an interview with VOA's Somali Service that he has broken ties with al-Shabab leader Moktar Abu Zubayr, who he says is now trying to kill him.

A senior State Department official, reacting to the news, noted that Hammami has been indicted by a federal grand jury. The official also said the U.S. government remains interested in any information that would lead to his arrest.

In the telephone interview recorded Tuesday, Hammami said he is hiding in a forested area of Somalia’s Bay and Bakool regions. He said al-Shabab fighters arrested both of his wives Tuesday after killing a person who arranged a safe house for them.

The 29-year-old Hammami, who comes from the state of Alabama, is wanted by the U.S. government on charges of providing material support to al-Shabab, which is affiliated with al-Qaida.

Asked whether he would speak with U.S. or Somali officials, Hammami seemed to rule out that possibility. "I'm openly not from Shabab, I'm openly not from al-Qaida, but I'm definitely a terrorist, so they're just going to end up changing my sentence from being affiliated with al-Qaida to being affiliated with terrorism, so it doesn't really matter whether I speak or not," he said.

The 29-year-old Hammami traveled to Somalia in 2006 and joined al-Shabab’s military wing. The FBI says that in 2007, after Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia, he joined the front lines as a fighter and eventually became a leader in al-Shabab. The U.S. has offered up to $5 million for information leading to his capture.

Hammami was highly critical of Abu Zubayr, saying the al-Shabab leader does not abide the principles of Islam, and has turned al-Shabab into an organization that oppresses Muslims in an effort to win control of Somalia.

Asked whether he'd come back to the United States, he said "that is not an option unless it's in a body bag."

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid