- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2013

Members of Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Shabab have killed one of their own — the rapping jihadist known as “The American,” according to several reports citing militant spokesmen.

Omar Hammami, a Somali-American from Daphne, Ala., was gunned down in an ambush near his hideout in Dinsoor, southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, militants said.

Killed with him were a British extremist who went by the name Osama al-Britani and a Somali comrade, according to social media postings from extremists in the region. An Egyptian fighter with them called Khadap al-Masri surrendered to al-Shabab.

Hammami, 29, became known as the “Rapping Jihadi” after he released videos of himself rhyming about his commitment to Islamic holy war. He was wanted by the FBI and had been indicted for materially supporting a terrorist group.

After having a falling-out with the terrorist group’s leaders, Hammami had been on the run from al-Shabab’s intelligence service, the Amniyatt Mukhabarat, since last year. In April he tweeted about being shot in the neck in an attack.

He has been reported being killed several times before Thursday’s accounts, and militants did not offer any proof of his death.

His killing is the latest in a spate of internal purges conducted by al-Shabab’s new leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr.

Analyst J.M. Berger, who has followed Hammami’s activities for many years, said the American had been “a thorn in the side of al-Shabab” for more than two years. He was “one of the few surviving dissenters after Godane’s bloody purge over the summer,” said Mr. Berger, the first Western source to report the killing.

Hammami was an ally of veteran Somali jihadist Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who split from al-Shabab in June and has since surrendered himself into the custody of the Somali government.

BBC Somalia analyst Mohamed Mohamed said al-Shabab’s new hard-line leadership has been hunting down and killing allies of Aweys’ since the split.

Along with Adam Gadahn in Pakistan — a former Osama bin Laden spokesman — Hammami was one of the two most notorious Americans in jihad groups. He grew up in Daphne, a community of 20,000 outside Mobile, Ala., the son of a Christian mother and a Syrian-born Muslim father.

His YouTube videos that featured him rapping and his presence on Twitter made him one of the most recognizable and studied U.S. foreign fighters. The U.S. put Hammami on its Most Wanted terrorist list in March and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Hammami moved from Alabama to Somalia and joined al-Shabaab in about 2006. He fought in the terror group for years until having a falling-out amid signs of increasing tension between Somali and foreign fighters.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.