Published April 12, 2011
An online video purportedly posted by an American from Alabama who joined Somalia's most dangerous militant group has given the man's mother hope that he is still alive amid heavy fighting in Mogadishu.
Debra Hammami told the Mobile Press-Register that she and her husband have not received official word from the U.S. government regarding their son, Omar Hammami, who grew up in the middle-class town of Daphne, Ala., and joined the Al Qaeda-linked Somali militants in 2007 while he was in his early 20s, becoming the most high-profile American member of Al Shabaab. He took the nom de guerre of Abu Mansur al-Amriki, or "the American."
"We're just hoping and praying that he will come to see things differently," she told the newspaper. "It's just God and a lot of prayers."
A jihadist website posted two songs over the weekend in which Hammami raps that he wants to die a martyr. He cites previous militant leaders killed by U.S. military action like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a militant killed in a U.S. commando raid in rural southern Somalia in September 2009.
The two songs are titled "Send Me a Cruise (missile)" and "Make Jihad With Me."
Somalia's defense minister told The Associated Press last month that intelligence reports indicated that Hammami may have been killed during an anti-insurgent offensive. But the minister said the reports weren't confirmed.
Though Hammami appears to still be alive, his lyrics yearn for death.
"There's nothing as sweet as the taste of a tank shell," he says in one song, according to a transcription by the website The Long War Journal. "It was a beautiful day, when that predator paradise missile sent me on my way."
Hammami has starred in previous jihadist videos that showed him rapping and running with gun-wielding fighters. He was indicted in the U.S. for his role in Al Shabaab in August. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said then that Hammami "has assumed an operational role in that organization."
Hammami's parents -- Debra, a Southern Baptist from Alabama, and Shafik Hammami, a Syrian immigrant -- told the Mobile Press-Register that they do not know why their son turned away from the typical suburban upbringing they provided.
"We really don't know what the future hold, and we don't uphold what he's been doing," Debra Hammami told the newspaper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.