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Somalia: Al-Amriki Alive, Severs Ties With Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda
SABAHI
Thursday, September 05, 2013

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American-born jihadist Omar Hammami, better known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, resurfaced Tuesday (September 3rd) and announced his severance from al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda.

News outlets reported that he was killed by fighters loyal to top al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Abdi Godane in May, but al-Amriki contacted Voice of America (VOA) Somali Service on Tuesday after two of his wives were arrested in Dinsor by members from al-Shabaab's Amniyat unit.

In an interview with VOA, he announced that he was finished with al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda, and said Godane had turned into a dictator.

"The cause of the problem is that basically he has left the principles of our religion," al-Amriki said, calling Godane an oppressive leader the likes of former Somali President Moahmed Siad Barre.

He again accused Godane, who is commonly referred to as Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, of attempting to kill him and of murdering the person who offered shelter to al-Amriki's two wives.

Al-Amriki said he has been travelling with a small group of fighters and is hiding out in the jungles of Bay or Bakol.

Following an unprecedented battle in Barawe in June between rival al-Shabaab factions -- in which Godane loyalists executed two well respected al-Shabaab commanders, Ibrahim al-Afghani and Sheikh Maalim Burhan -- al-Amriki reportedly fled Barawe to join senior al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow Ali in Bakol.

Losing faith in al-Qaeda:

Al-Amriki's defection from al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda came after he lost hope that al-Qaeda would take steps to rescue him from Godane and his loyalists, according to Omar Sheikh Abdirahman, a security analyst and director of the Mogadishu-based Center for Moderation and Dialogue.

"Hammami has been desperately calling on al-Qaeda for a while and it has failed to help him, so it became clear to him that al-Qaeda did not have any use for him, and al-Shabaab was searching for him, so he abandoned both," Abdirahman told Sabahi.

"It is possible that Hammami thinks al-Qaeda has taken Ahmed Godane's side and that might be the reason he left, but al-Qaeda recently seems as though it is not as united as it used to be, which means that it is unable to do anything even if it wanted to take steps against Godane in light of how weak it has become," he said.

Al-Amriki's current protectors are former mid-level leaders of al-Shabaab who have also defected from Godane, Abdirahman said, adding that the defectors' clans are helping protect al-Amriki.

"Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur is also in the bush and has abandoned Godane's side, so it possible that he will make the same decision," Abdirahman said, adding that al-Amriki's latest revelation could influence Somali members of al-Shabaab who share his viewpoint to take the same decision and defect from the group.

General Yusuf Hussein Dhumal, former commander of the Somali military during the transitional government, has dismissed al-Amriki's comments, saying he is just struggling to stay alive.

"He is unable to protect his own [life], so cutting ties with al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab will not do anything to them," he told Sabahi.

He said the only thing al-Amriki's decision shows is the continued failure al-Shabaab is slipping into, and it gives the government the morale boost it needs to push al-Shabaab out of the places it still holds.

When asked to comment on al-Amriki's interview, Somali government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman Yarisow told Sabahi, "The only thing I can say is that we will not negotiate with any internationally recognised terrorist."

He did not provide any additional details on if or how the federal government intends to use al-Amriki's defection from al-Shabaab to advance its own fight against the militant group, but said administration officials will hold a press conference to update the public on Somalia's general security situation on Wednesday.

This is not the first time al-Amriki has been reported dead for several months and then reappeared online in a video message or through social media.

In early 2012, al-Amriki -- one of al-Shabaab's top propagandists at that time -- posted a series of video messages appealing to al-Qaeda to intervene in the internal strife among al-Shabaab leadership. Al-Amriki also said his life was in danger from fellow al-Shabaab members after he spoke out against the Somali militant group.



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