Alabama-born rapper-turned-Islamist Omar Hammami was ambushed and killed in Somalia on Thursday. Hammami, once a member of the Al-Qaida-linked militant group Al-Shahaab, reportedly had a falling out with the group's leader and was on the run for several months. Hammami, who moved to Somalia and joined Al-Shahaab in 2006, ranked high on the FBI's most wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head.
This is not the first report of Hammami's death, U.S. terrorism expert, JM Berger told the Guardian. However, according to his sources, Berger says he thinks, this time, the reports are true.
Hammami, one of the most prominent U.S. fighters abroad, gained notoriety through his pro-Jihad rap songs. Better known as "Al-Amriki," or the American, Hammami reportedly used songs like Send Me a Cruise (Missile) and Make Jihad with Me to recruit young jihadists to the cause.
With no instrumental or background music, Al-Amriki glamorizes the fight against the U.S.-backed Somali government. In "Send Me a Cruise (Missile)," Al-Amriki says, "Just send me a cruise … Send me all four and send me much, much more. I pray for that on my way to heaven's door. An amazing martyrdom I strive for and adore … Stand up heroes of Islam …"
Though the U.S. native faced the very real threat of being killed by this militant group, not to mention being captured and turned over to the FBI, Hammami continued to publish YouTube videos of his raps and Tweet his day-to-day activities to his more than 3,000 followers. In fact, Hammami seemingly live-tweeted the first of Al-Shahaab's serious attempts on his life:
Hammami faced opposition from both sides of the "war on terror." The "jihadist rapper" split from Al-Shahaab in 2012. He accused the leaders of pursuing "fame," and using the money from taxes fighters collected to live lives of extravagance. He was also reportedly angered by accusations that he didn't write his own raps. If true, such accusations can be terminal to a rapper's career. Meanwhile, in February 2012, the U.S. accused Hammami of "providing material support to terrorists" and put him on their most wanted list.
The militants have yet to provide proof of Hamami's death. In a conversation with NBC News, Hammami's parents said they still don't know how to react.