- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

MOGADISHU, Somalia | A man who calls himself an American promotes holy war in Somalia in a video posted this week on an Islamic militant Web site.

A U.S. government contractor who tracks extremist propaganda says the footage is the first to show what may be an American with a senior role in al-Shabab, a Somali group the State Department considers a terrorist organization with links to al Qaeda.

The half-hour video features an amateur English-language rap soundtrack and purports to show an operation against Ethiopian troops in Somalia. It appeared on Web sites where al Qaeda and other militant groups often post messages and videos. A caption says it was recorded on July 15, 2008.

A tall man with long, dark hair and a wide smile who appears to be in his 20s and gives his nom de guerre as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, or “the American,” urges Muslims around the world to send their children to replace his group’s fallen fighters.

“If you can encourage more of your children, and more of your neighbors, and anyone around you to send people … to this jihad, it would be a great asset for us,” he says.

Al-Amriki speaks English with a North American accent and reads verses from the Koran in fluent classical Arabic. He appears to be of European or possibly Arab descent, but it was impossible to independently confirm his nationality or where the video was recorded.

The man appears in a scrubby rural clearing filled with short trees and dust. There are few identifying markers indicating he is in Somalia, though several of his companions appear to be Somalis.

In the Somali capital, Mogadishu, a former fighter, Mohamed Muqtar, said he had met the man more than two years ago in the Islamist stronghold of Kismayo, Somalia’s third-largest town. “This man was training us how to make land mines and explosives,” he said.

Farhan Haji, another former fighter who lives in Mogadishu, pointed to the green shrubbery in the tape and said it did not look like Somalia.

Another English speaker does not appear on the tape but raps over a track of Islamic devotional songs.

“Bomb by bomb, blast by blast, only going to bring back the glorious past,” the man chants atonally. “Mortar by mortar, shell by shell, I’m only gonna stop when I send them to hell.”

Ben Venzke, director of IntelCenter, the U.S. contractor that tracks extremist propaganda, said the video appears to be authentic.

“It was done in the same manner that all their releases are done,” he said. “We have absolutely no reason to believe it’s anything but an authentic [al-Shabab] video.”

California-born Adam Gadahn has appeared prominently in al Qaeda videos in the role of a top propagandist.

Gadahn, who goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Azzam al-Amriki, has appeared in videos talking about the defeat of America in Iraq and on other battlefields with jihadists and urging Americans to convert to Islam. He has been indicted on treason charges, and the FBI has offered a $1 million reward, calling him “an integral part of al Qaeda’s media and recruitment branch.”

Some members of the thriving Somali community in Minneapolis and St. Paul have reported being questioned by the FBI as it investigates whether some young men are being “radicalized” in Minnesota and recruited to fight with terror groups in their homeland.

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