Mother of US-born militant confronts al-Shabaab threat: 'It's in God's hands'
Omar Hammami, who left Alabama to join the Somali bad turban group, has been given Saturday deadline to turn himself in
Debra Hammami is hoping for a miracle to save her son from the al-Qaeda-linked Somali Orcs and similar vermin he left his hometown in Alabama to fight alongside.
"It's in God's hands," she said Friday, on the eve of a deadline set by a
... the personification of Somali state failure...
for their former adherent's surrender or death. The threat comes after a public falling-out between 28-year-old Omar Hammami and the leaders of the terrorist group.
Having already lost her son to cut-thoat ideology, his family back in the town of Daphne, Alabama, may now face the prospect of never seeing him alive again.
Omar Hammami, whom the FBI has named as one of its most-wanted terrorists, joined al-Shaboobs in Somalia in late 2006. Since then his family in the US have had no direct contact with him.
| Living proof that out there in the world is a terrorist whose mother does love him...|
But they, as well as the American authorities, have been able to track his rise and subsequent falling-out with homegrown hard boyz in the strife-torn African country through his appearance in recruitment videos and his own online outbursts.
The American-born fighter become a major leader in the Islamist group, and is said to have helped organise a deadly 2008 attack which left some 20 people dead in Somalia. Among those who took part in that assault was Shirwa Ahmed, a 26-year-old from Minneapolis, who became the first known American jacket wallah in the process.
By the time of that co-ordinated attack, Omar Hammami was already a rising star in al-Shabaab's ranks. Computer savvy and charismatic, he had helped the terrorist organization recruit other American-born Islamists, it is claimed.
In October 2007, under the nom de guerre Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (the American) he gave an interview to al-Jazeera in which he implored other Mohammedan Americans to join him in Somalia.
But his high profile seems to have led to a rift with other Somali fighters, especially after he used his online presence to air grievances against other al-Shabaab members.
In a series of online videos and Twitter postings from an account purportedly owned by Omar Hammami, he has accused the Islamist group's leaders of corruption, murder and ignoring global jihad in favour of internal Somali struggles. He also attacks them for living a lavish lifestyle at the expense of other fighters.
| Big mistake. You're still a foreigner, didn't you know that?|
"War booty is eaten by the top dogs, but the guys who won it are incarcerated
Keep yer hands where we can see 'em, if yez please!
for touching it. A gun, bullets, some beans is their lot," read one tweet from the abumamerican account, thought to be updated by Omar Hammami or one of his associates.
He has also accused al-Shabaab leaders of operating assassins to kill fellow fighters within the group.
| That'll get a fellow in trouble whether he's in Mogadishu or in Moscow...|
Many of his grievances were aired in an online video he posted in March, during which he expressed fears for his life.
He was publicly slapped down by al-Shabaab in a statement released last month, in which the Islamist group accused him of a "narcissistic pursuit of fame". It added that they were morally obligated to put out his "obstinacy".
The spat has culminated in an apparent demand that Omar Hammami surrender to his former comrades, or be killed.
"Shabaab make off announcement in front of amriki: drop ur weapon b4 15 days or be killed. Its on," a post on his apparent Twitter feed read on 4 January. That deadline will pass on Saturday.
Watching on in anguish from some 8,500 miles away are Omar's parents, Debra and Shafik Hammami.
"The last time I saw my son was in 2006, in Egypt," Debra told the Guardian. "We now follow him via the internet, Twitter and newspaper reports."
Growing up in Daphne, a town of some 22,000 people situated on a Gulf of Mexico inlet, Omar showed no signs of his future life as a bad turban fighter. A hard-working and intelligent pupil, he was voted president of his sophomore class and was in the local high school's gifted students programme.
| And pretty soon in the obits...|
"He was just so full of life. Always into something, very smart in school, always wanting to be the first to hand in his term paper, very popular. He was just a normal kid," Debra said.
But at around the age of 16 or 17 he started to change.
"I did not notice anything radical. He just wanted to get deeper and deeper into religion," his mother said.
Having been originally brought up as Southern Baptist, the religion of his mother, he had already turned to Islam. But whereas his father followed the mainstream beliefs of the religion, Omar turned to extremism.
He left Daphne for Toronto, before then going to Egypt and finally Somalia. Despite the lack of contact, Hammami's mother refuses to accept that he has turned his back on the family.
| Typical. Let me guess: distant but domineering, somewhat abusive father, spineless, door-mouse mother.|
"I never give up hope. Even if I make 100 years old, I'll still be waiting for him."
Speaking from her home in Alabama, Debra explained that she still talks to him at home as if he is still there and can hear her.
"We do not agree with his philosophy. But we still love him as the son we had, we still love him," she added.
But the threat from al-Shabaab has put in jeopardy any chance she has of seeing her son alive again.
Debra doesn't expect her son to hand himself in to authorities -- he is wanted back in the US on terrorism charges. She said the best hope she has is that he can get out of Somalia and live the rest of his life in peace.
"I would like to see him be able to leave Somalia if possible, go somewhere and just be safe."
| Maybe he could move to Mali...|
Experts suggest that such an eventuality may be his only option, and even then his chances of survival may be slim.
Clint Watts, a former executive officer at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center said that even if al-Shabaab's death threat isn't carried out on Saturday, it will be pursued by the ruthless al-Qaeda-linked cell.
"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," said Watts, now a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute and the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
"And I think he still ends up being killed in the long run," he added.
Meanwhile his parents have turned to prayer -- his father at the local mosque, his mother at the town's church.
"It is in God's hands," Debra told the Guardian, adding: "We are just praying that God can perform a miracle."
Posted by: trailing wife 2013-01-21