Somali death threat issued to US jihadi

Updated 20 January 2013
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Somali death threat issued to US jihadi

JOHANNESBURG: An Alabama native who moved to Somalia to wage jihad alongside Al-Shabab militants may soon find himself the one pursued by insurgents.
Omar Hammami — whom the FBI named as one of its most-wanted terrorists in November — has engaged in a public fight with Al-Shabab over the last year, and a Twitter account that terrorism analysts believe is run by Hammami or his associates announced Jan. 4 that Al-Shabab fighters had given him 15 days — until Saturday — to surrender, or else.
“Shabab make (an) announcement in front of amriki: drop ur weapon b4 15 days or be killed. Its on,” the tweet from the Twitter handle (at)abumamerican said. Hammami’s nom de guerre is Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, or “the American.”
It’s far from clear whether Hammami will be killed. The assassination of an American foreign fighter would likely harm Al-Shabab’s efforts to recruit Westerners. Hammami first expressed fear for his life in an extraordinary web video last March that publicized his rift with the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab.
Hammami has since leveled a myriad of accusations at the group — corruption, murder, abandonment of global jihad — and analysts agree the American has become an Al-Shabab PR problem.
“Something tells me at some point they just need to shut this guy up. At some point he stops being a nuisance and starts being a problem,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal. “He may be signing his own death warrant ... I suspect if they end up executing him they won’t do it in the timeline that he claims.”
Even if the death threat isn’t carried out close to Saturday, Clint Watts — a former executive officer at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center — said Hammami needs to flee if he wants to save his own skin.
“He’s always going to be looking over his shoulder in Somalia. They’re not going to forget and eventually they’re going to come after him. I mean, he’s just killing Al-Shabab right now,” said Watts, who suggested that Hammami must run, turn himself in to US authorities or fight to stay alive in Somalia as long as he can.
Along with Adam Gadahn in Pakistan — a former Osama Bin Laden spokesman — Hammami is one of the two most notorious Americans in jihad groups. Hammami has made frequent appearances in Al-Shabab combat videos, and in 2011 he released two rap songs, “Send Me a Cruise (missile)” and “Make Jihad With Me.” He’s also released Islamic lectures.
Hammami has grievances with Al-Shabab that has angered the Somali fighters: First, that militant leaders live extravagant lifestyles with the taxes fighters collect from Somali residents. “War booty is eaten by the top dogs, but the guys who won it are jailed for touching it. A gun, bullets, some beans is their lot,” abumamerican tweeted this month.
His second major grievance is that the Somali militant leaders sideline foreign militants inside Al-Shabab and are concerned only about fighting in Somalia, not globally.
Hammami even claims that Al-Shabab’s leader — Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as Godane — sent Al-Qaeda’s former East Africa chief — Fazul Abdullah Mohammed — to his death by directing Mohammed to a Somali government checkpoint in Mogadishu where he was shot and killed in June 2011. Mohammed, who had ties with Osama Bin Laden, died one month after Bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs.
That theory may have credence to it. Roggio and Watts both say it’s plausible that Fazul was set up, and a Kenyan government security official has told The Associated Press that Fazul was sent to his death. The official spoke only on condition he not be identified because he wasn’t authorized to release that information.
Hammami also claims that Al-Shabab assassinates fighters inside its group.
Al-Shabab slapped Hammami publicly in an Internet statement last month, saying his video releases are the result of personal grievances that stem from a “narcissistic pursuit of fame.” The statement said Al-Shabab was morally obligated to out his “obstinacy.”


No clear US plan yet on how to reunite children with illegal immigrant parents

Updated 27 min 51 sec ago
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No clear US plan yet on how to reunite children with illegal immigrant parents

  • More than 2,000 minors have been separated from their families since early May
  • In May, the Department of Justice adopted the zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted

MCALLEN, Texas: Trump administration officials say they have no clear plan yet on how to reunite the thousands of children separated from their families at the border since the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted.
“This policy is relatively new,” said Steven Wagner, an acting assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services “We’re still working through the experience of reunifying kids with their parents after adjudication.”
Federal officials say there are some methods parents can use to try to find their children: hotlines to call and an email address for those seeking information. But advocates say it’s not that simple.
In a courtroom near the Rio Grande, lawyer Efren Olivares and his team with the Texas Civil Rights Project frantically scribble down children’s names, birthdates and other details from handcuffed men and women waiting for court to begin. There are sometimes 80 of them in the same hearing.
The Texas Civil Rights Project works to document the separations in the hopes of helping them reunite with the children.
They have one hour to collect as much information as they can before the hearing begins. The immigrants plead guilty to illegally entering the US, and they are typically sent either to jail or directly to an immigration detention center. At this point, lawyers with the civil rights group often lose access to the detainees.
“If we don’t get that information, then there’s no way of knowing that child was separated,” Olivares said. “No one else but the government will know that the separation happened if we don’t document it there.”
Olivares has documented more than 300 cases of adults who have been separated from a child. Most are parents, but some are older siblings, aunts, uncles or grandparents. Some are illiterate and don’t know how to spell the children’s names.
More than 2,000 minors have been separated from their families since early May. The children are put into the custody of the US Department of Health and Human Services with the aim of keeping them as close to their parents as possible and reuniting the family after the case goes through the courts, said Wagner.
But it’s not clear that’s working.
According to Olivares, the agency is generally “very willing to help,” often helping to find a child even if there’s a misspelling in the group’s records. But if a child has been transferred out of a government shelter — including if the child has been deported — agency representatives won’t give any information.
“Sometimes the parent gives us contact information for a relative,” Olivares said. “If they have the phone number right and the phone number is working ... we call that number and sometimes we’re able to locate that relative and ask them what they know.”
In May, the Department of Justice adopted the zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted. Children can’t be jailed with their parents. Instead, after the adult is charged, children are held briefly by Homeland Security officials before being transferred to Health and Human Services, which operates more than 100 shelters for minors in 17 states.
The department has set up new facilities to manage the influx of children, and Wagner said they were prepared to expand as more children come into custody.
The children are classified as unaccompanied minors, a legal term generally used for children who cross the border alone and have a possible sponsor in the US willing to care for them. Most of the more than 10,000 children in shelters under HHS care came to the US alone and are waiting to be placed with family members living in the US
But these children are different — they arrived with their families.
“They should just give the kids back to their parents. This isn’t difficult,” said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gelernt represents a Brazilian asylum seeker in a closely watched lawsuit that seeks a nationwide halt to family separation. The woman, identified as Mrs. C in court documents, was split from her son for nearly a year after entering the country illegally in August near Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
On Tuesday, Olivares’ team had seven people left to interview with five minutes left. They took down just the names, dates of birth, and countries of origin of the children.
“One woman (said), ‘What about me, what about me?’” Olivares said a few hours later. “She wanted to give us information because she realized what we were trying to do.”