News / Africa

American al-Shabab Member Buried, Witness Says

Omar Shafik Hammami, alias Abu Mansour al-Amriki, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, is seen in an undated FBI handout photo.  Omar Shafik Hammami, alias Abu Mansour al-Amriki, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, is seen in an undated FBI handout photo.
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Omar Shafik Hammami, alias Abu Mansour al-Amriki, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, is seen in an undated FBI handout photo.
Omar Shafik Hammami, alias Abu Mansour al-Amriki, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, is seen in an undated FBI handout photo.
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VOA News
A witness says the American Islamist militant reportedly killed in Somalia this week has been buried.

A resident of Bardhere, a town in southwest Somalia, said in an interview with VOA's Somali Service that the bodies of Omar Hammami and three others were brought to the town Thursday morning.

The resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the bodies were buried Thursday night in an unknown location on the outskirts of the town. 

Former militants told VOA that fighters with militant group al-Shabab killed Hammami and at least two others Thursday morning at a forest hideout 20 kilometers from Bardhere.

Hammami, also known as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, had recently broken ties with al-Shabab, several years after traveling to Somalia to fight with the group.

The U.S. government has charged Hammami with providing material support to al-Shabab and offered up to $5 million for information leading to his capture.

The State Department said Thursday that it is trying to learn more about Hammami's fate.

"We've seen the reports that he was killed in Somalia, we're working to verify them right now," said State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. "As many of you know, in 2006 Omar Hammami moved to Somalia with the intent to join al-Shabab. He's alleged to have made significant contributions to this terrorist organization's media and military activities."

The Bardhere resident who spoke to VOA said there were unmanned drones flying over the town Friday morning.

The FBI says that in 2007, after Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia, Hammami joined the front lines as a fighter and eventually became a leader in al-Shabab.   He also served as a propagandist for the group, helping to recruit English-speaking youth through writings, rap songs, and televised statements.

In an interview with VOA nine days before his death, Hammami said al-Shabab was trying to kill him.  He was also critical of al-Shabab leader Moktar Abu Zubayr, who he said cared only about seizing power in Somalia.

On Thursday, Hammami's father Shafik Hammami seemed forgiving of his son but had harsh words for al-Shabab.

"My own judgement is that he had good intentions to fulfill his Islamic principles but was deceived by the al-Shabab and their murderous ways," he said.

The father said he had spoken to U.S. authorities about his son but had not had contact with Hammami since he left for Somalia.

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