Less than a week after popping back up briefly on Twitter, Omar Hammami has allegedly been killed by al Shabaab in Somalia. This claim has been made before and turned out to be untrue. However, the tweets supporting this claim seem credible. The story has already been picked up by the BBC and the details surrounding Hammami’s death add credibility to the claims.
- Shabaab had been closing in on Omar for a while, had captured his wives – Last week’s reports noted that Omar’s wives had been detained by Shabaab and that a guard protecting Omar’s wives had been killed. This seemingly brought Omar back out into the media.
- Omar was executed alongside two others according to these tweets from HOA. Omar al-Britani, whom I believe might be the man to the left of Omar in the picture below from January 11, 2013, and a Somali, whom I wonder might be the guy in the mask to the far right and Omar’s Somali language coach on Twitter and YouTube, were both allegedly killed along with Omar. The BBC reports that Omar’s Egyptian friend, whom I wonder may be the man on the right of the below picture and Omar’s Arabic coach, was captured by al Shabaab.
Another of their allies, Khadap al-Masari, from Egypt, surrendered, the fighter said.
- The alleged location of the shootout also makes sense. (UPDATE: as of 1000 am EST, 12 September 2013) Harun Maruf of VOA-Somalia, and I would guess the person that got the interview with Omar last week,
says the incident happened near RamaAddey(Caday). This would be relatively close, I think, to where Shabaab tried to assassinate Omar a few months back. I’ll add that map from this past spring below Harun’s tweet. A new update from Harun Maruf. So I’ve included his new tweet and an updated map with my estimate of where the shootout took place. For me, that he was in Gedo calls into question how much support he had from Robow after all.
- Omar was one of the last one’s standing, Shabaab could consolidate on him – In previous months, Shabaab has eliminated many of its opponents killing off al-Afghani and pushing Aweys into capture. With each dissenter eliminated, Shabaab has more force at its disposal to chase Omar. Now I wonder, where is Robow? He would be the last major dissenter that could stand in Godane’s way.
- What will al Qaeda say? – Omar Hammami’s plight amongst Shabaab’s oppression of foreign fighters has been ignored by al Qaeda. They’ve turned a blind eye to the disasterous merger with Shabaab and Somalia and instead smartly focusing on opportunities in Syria and Egypt. My guess is al Qaeda doesn’t much care about Omar or his death. Where a year or two ago, al Qaeda desperately needed Western foreign fighters, today, the Syrian jihad provides an ample pipeline of manpower to try and tap into. So Omar’s pleas and his plight, well they have probably soured recruitment pipelines from the West into Somalia, but not really achieved much else.
In conclusion, Omar did ultimately die at the hands of al Shabaab which he basically predicted with his public discussion. I imagine today is a tough day for his family and I feel for them. Omar plunged into Somalia looking for a pure ideology and committed violence in pursuit of this vision. Only in the end, Omar found out that in Somalia as in other campaigns, jihad is really just about violence, and nothing else.