Somali Terrorist Group Releases Recruitment Video Featuring "the American"
Updated: September 8, 2009
Posted: April 2, 2009
A propaganda video by a Somali terrorist group urging foreigners "to come and live the life of a mujahid" features an English speaking militant named "the American."
Alabama native Omar Hammami, who is identified in the video as Abu Mansour al Amriki (Arabic for "Abu Mansour the American"), appears in approximately half of the 31-minute video. Hammami serves as a commander of Al Shabaab (Arabic for "the Youth"), a U.S. designated terrorist group that seeks to overthrow the Somali government.
The video, which was released on March 31, 2009, shows Hammami speaking English to a group of men while leading them through a wooded area. After he is shown hovering over a map of Somalia, Hammami talks about the preparations for an ambush in which he and his followers will "try to blow up as many of their vehicles as we can and kill as many of them as we can." After an ambush is shown in the video, Hammami praises a killed fighter, calling him a martyr.
"We need more like him, so if you can encourage more of your children and more of your neighbors and anyone around you to send people like him to this jihad, it would be a great asset for us," Hammami says.
In the past 18 months, approximately 20 Somali-American men between the ages of 17 and 27 – most from the Minneapolis area – have traveled to Somalia to join Al Shabaab, according to U.S. authorities. Al Shabaab seeks to recruit new members in the U.S. both in person and via the Internet, according to the FBI.
Somali officials estimate that Al Shabaab has recruited up to 450 foreign fighters since 2006, from countries in North America, Europe and the Middle East.
Hammami, who converted to Islam in high school, reportedly attended the Islamic Society of Mobile and served as the president of the Muslim Student Association at the University of South Alabama.
Hammami, who was previously identified as an American in an interview with Al Jazeera in September 2007, has previously appeared in Al Shabaab videos with his face covered. He has also issued statements on behalf of the group. For example, in a January 2008 letter released by the Global Islamic Media Front, an umbrella propaganda organization for Islamic extremists, Hammami explained that Al Shabaab's goal is to "establish the Islamic [Caliphate] from East to West after removing the occupier and killing the apostates."
The March 31 video also features another man speaking English, explaining that he carries an AK-47 to fight against unbelievers in order to raise the "banner of Islam." He also appeals to foreign youth to join the jihad in Somalia, saying "we're calling all the brothers oversees, all the Shabaab, wherever they are, to come and live the life of the mujahid. They will see with their own eyes, and they will love it."
This video also includes a rhyming English voice-over that sounds like Hammami. The rhyme threatens that the "American dream has fallen, Bush is going down like Stalin, your economy is crawling, your widows are balling, your dead you'll be hauling."