News / Africa

US Posts Bounty on American Militants in Somalia

U.S. citizens Omar Shafik Hammami (R) and Jehad Serwan Mostafa are seen in undated FBI handout photos.
U.S. citizens Omar Shafik Hammami (R) and Jehad Serwan Mostafa are seen in undated FBI handout photos.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow
— The U.S. State Department has offered $5 million rewards for information about two American citizens who have joined ranks with the Somali militant group al-Shabab.  One of the militants is the media savvy al-Amriki, known for his recruitment videos, jihadi rap songs and Twitter battles with al-Shabab’s leadership.
 
In an undated video by Amriki, the long-haired young American man who would become the western face of al-Shabab leads what he says is an ambush on Ethiopian soldiers.
 
Born Omar Hammami, he is now better known by the moniker Abu Mansour al-Amriki - “the American.”
 
Originally from the southern U.S. state of Alabama, he moved to Somalia in 2006 and received training from the al-Qaida linked militants.
 
In the years since, he has become one of the group’s leading propagandist, appearing speaking English and Arabic in recruitment videos.  At some point along the way, he recorded a jihadi rap song.
 
Now, the U.S. State Department is offering $5 million for information that can lead to his arrest, and that of another American citizen in Somalia, Jehad Mostafa, a former resident of California.
 
In a telephone conference Thursday, U.S. Diplomatic Security official Kirk Rice said the rewards program is part of the U.S. strategy targeting al-Shabab’s Somali and foreign commanders.
 
“So we have done this before, we continue to try and get information on al-Shabab key leaders," said Rice."We try to get information on al-Shabab key recruiters and leaders of foreign fighter cadres, and we will continue to look at and try to get information on al-Shabab into the future.”
 
In recent months, al-Amriki had a very public falling out with the leadership of al-Shabab which he narrated on his Twitter feed and in his videos.
 
He expressed fear for his life, as the rift opened up between his wing of foreign fighters and that of al-Shabab chief Ahmed Godane.
 
The State Department said al-Amriki is still believed to be in Somalia. But as the group is torn apart internally, and under pressure from African Union forces on the ground, he may be seeking refuge somewhere else, according to Abdiwelli Sheikh Abdisamad, an analyst with Southlink consultants in Nairobi.
 
“I don’t think they are going to live there for long, to be honest with you, he will never live there for long," said Abdisamad. "He has to go outside of the country. He is being forced. Al-Shabab now is almost over.”
 
Al-Shabab had been on the backfoot after being driven out of the major cities across Somalia, starting with Mogadishu in 2011.
 
But the group earlier this week retook control of the town of Hudur in central Somalia, after Ethiopian troops guarding the town unexpectedly withdrew.
 
 Al-Shabab also has been blamed for a string of suicide bombings in the capital in recent months.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid