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!’”