NAIROBI, Kenya: Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Shabab militants said Monday they had broken ties with a US extremist who rose to fame for his rap videos urging fellow Americans to join him to fight.
Omar Hamami — better known as Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (the American) — was once viewed as a key foreign leader within the Shabab, and was placed last month on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.
But the Shabab on Monday accused Amriki of “spreading discord and disunity” among the insurgents, following video release and statements from the 28-year-old alleging he had been threatened by fellow fighters.
“Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki does not, in any way, shape or form, represent the views of the mujahedeen in Somalia,” a statement posted via a link on the Shabab’s Twitter site read.
The “superficial allegations” made in the videos and statements are “the results of personal grievances that stem purely from a narcissistic pursuit of fame,” the statement added.
Amriki, who grew up in the town of Daphne in Alabama, was raised by a southern Baptist mother with Irish roots and a Muslim father with a Syrian background.
Reportedly based in anarchic Somalia since late 2006, he has issued previous videos calling for foreign recruits, including singing rap songs praising jihad, despite the fact that the Shabab ban music under their strict interpretation of Islam.
Amriki had previously been seen as a leader for foreign fighters in the Shabab, alongside top Somali commanders Muktar Robow and Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aweys.
But the Shabab, while saying they still welcomed foreign fighters, dismissed Amriki’s importance.
“The jihadi theater nevertheless accommodates people of all sorts. Some, above others, occasionally rise to prominence often with little merit save for their uniqueness,” the statement read.
“Contrary to portraits of the grand strategist, recruiter and fundraiser portrayed by the Western media, Abu Mansur Al-Amriki does not hold any position of authority.”
The Shabab are on the back foot having lost a string of key towns in recent months to African Union forces, Somali troops and Ethiopian soldiers.