ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Best-Liked on the Most-WantedThe State Department announced today it was offering $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of American jihadists Omar Hammami and Jehad Mostafa, both of whom are involved with Al Shabab, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia.
For months now, it's been the worst-kept secret in the world that Hammami hangs out on Twitter, occasionally sparring with his fellow Shabab members, with whom he has fallen out, and more often talking to and joking around with American terrorism analysts and scholars, including myself and Clint Watts of Selected Wisdom, who has been banging out extensive analysis of Hammami's comments and Al Shabab's general state of disrepair. Even the State Department, which is sponsoring the reward, has been Twitterfighting with Hammami in Arabic.
All of this social interaction has resulted in a weird sort of camaraderie, which may be more like Stockholm Syndrome on Hammami's part, given his difficult situation. But when Rusty Shackleford of the hardcore Jawa Report says he's "fond" of you, it's a sign you you're doing terrorism terribly wrong... or maybe you're doing it exactly right... I don't know, it's all kind of confusing.
An FBI official told CNN the two American Shababis "had a persistent interest in targeting U.S. interests" and are "believed to be involved in planning attacks on U.S. persons or property," although Hammami's account on Twitter depicts a more modest daily regimen of buying tea and riding donkeys while hoping no one from Shabab shows up to kill him on any given day. While Hammami is a master of spin, as seen in his tweets and online autobiography, I suspect his account is pretty accurate.
My question about this reward is: Why now? Hammami has split from Al Shabab's leadership and is sowing a remarkable amount of discontent, particularly among other foreign fighters who have joined Shabab. He's even disavowed the jihadi raps previously attributed to him. I have little doubt that he would love to get back to scheming against America, but he doesn't seem to be a $5 million threat at the moment, and frankly, don't we want him over there there stirring up trouble? In fact, the person with the most capability and motivation to collect that reward is Abu Zubair, Shabab's current leader, who would like nothing better than to be rid of this meddlesome priest.
But the real lesson from all this? Sucks to be "Jehad Who?"
UPDATE: Omar responds to the news on Twitter:
For more about American jihadists, check out J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, on sale everywhere.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
A Closer Look at the SPLC's Hate List
Inspire 10: Still sucks
Should we disrupt terrorists on the Internet?
Former friend rips U.S. jihadi Hammami in online p...
Omar Hammami and the Trolls of Jihad
Review: The Last Refuge
FBI Releases Redacted Informant Manuals In Respons...
Signs of Life (Maybe) from Omar Hammami
Nuanced to Death
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting