What do the Hammami tweets reveal about al Shabaab fractures in Somalia?

Several months back @tweetsintheME and I wrote an article on Omar Hammami’s YouTube plea as he was turned on by al Shabaab in Somalia.  A central part of the article was the debate over what Hammami’s plight meant for potential fractures in al Shabaab.  Well, Omar Hammami’s latest tweets (caveat – or someone acting on behalf of Hammami or pretending to have deep insights into Shabaab, the account may not be him) suggest that the threat of Hammami getting to close to Mukhtar Robow is what brought the wrath of Shabaab upon him.

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So if this is true, let’s return to the Shabaab fracture scenarios from last winter – “Deciphering Hammami Scenarios & Shabaab Splits”. For those that enjoy my bad Powerpoint pics, here’s a return of an old graphic with a new picture for al-Shabaab leader Godane (Turns out old photo of Godane used by most media outlets was not Godane.)

GameofThrones2In the graphic above, three scenarios were outlined.  These scenarios attempted to explain why Hammami was on the outs with al Shabaab.  Here’s the list of four scenarios with brief summaries and check out this post for a more expansive description of each.

  1. Scenario #1: Godane kills off old AQ members & Robow affiliated foreign fighters (Represented in Red #1 above)
  2. Scenario #2: Robow kills off AQ fighters and dumps Hammami over Shabaab’s focus (Represented in Blue #2 above)
  3. Scenario #3: There is no split in al-Shabaab, Godane & Robow jointly decided to push out Hammami (Represented above in Green #3)
  4. An outlier notion- alternate scenario #4: The AQ-Shabaab merger was nothing more than an exit strategy for Shabaab from Somalia. (Not depicted)

If the tweet above is actually from Hammami and it’s accurate, it would seem “Scenario #1 Godane kills off old AQ members & Robow affiliated foreign fighters”  is what actually occurred in 2012 resulting in Hammami being on the outs.  I’m sure Hammami’s allegations that Shabaab was killing off foreign fighters also didn’t sit well. Scenario #2 (Robow outs Hammami) and Scenario #3 (No Split) are unlikely if this tweet is accurate.  Here’s a summary from March of what I thought Scenario #1 might be.

This scenario mirrors the arguments put forth by @Aynte and Lebovich and I last week.  Godane (Ahmed Abdi Godane, aka Mukhtar Abu Zabair), in an effort to consolidate his power in al-Shabaab and to quell old AQ member resistance to a merger, facilitates the removal of Fazul, Bilal al-Barjawi, and Barjawi’s deputy. Godane accomplishes this with a primary ally, Ibrahim al-Afghani (a fellow Ishaaq clan member). Godane proceeds to eliminate other foreign fighters (including Hammami) aligned under Robow (Sheikh Muktar Robow, AKA Abu Mansur). Godane undermines Robow because 1) Robow is from a competing clan focused on local Somali issues and is less interested in global AQ objectives and, 2) Robow is more interested in continuing a military campaign against the TFG rather than pursuing Godane’s guerilla warfare strategy.

Also of note is Hammami’s focus on the Raxanwayn clan providing the manpower for Shabaab but not having any of the leadership positions.  Seems ideology doesn’t unify all clan differences in Somalia.

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This perceived slight against the Raxanwayn would also tangentially support Scenario #1 as the push for more Raxanwayn (Rahanwejn) would support Mukhtar Robow who is from the Raxanwayn clan and holds Bay and Baidoa regions.  While this doesn’t mean necessarily Hammami is in Robow’s camp, Hammami is still advocating for Robow’s troopss.


What about Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aweys? Hammami actually speaks of him.  I’ve argued for a long time that Aweys, as the last prominent leader forced into al Shabaab, would be the first to defect…….

2. Allies taken by force are the first to defect.

Aweys may be the world’s greatest clan chess player.  Aweys cavorted with AQ in the early 90’s, maintained control of his clan for almost twenty years, and led the Islamic Courts Union.  Aweys may submit to Shabab for now, but allies born from force usually defect or undermine the conqueror in time.  Aweys won’t like being “Number 2” for long.  He’s a smooth warlord.

…..and Aweys has been one of the more vocal critics of al Shabaab in recent months.

“No one can limit Jihad to himself. It is better to have many Islamic groups and then unite later. This is how we have been carrying out for the last two decades,” Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who merged his Hizbul rebel group with al Shabaab in 2010, told Radio Shabelle late on Saturday.

“We are in al Shabaab but its operation is very wrong, we should correct it… al Shabaab and al Qaeda do not represent the Muslim world, they are only part of it.”

Well it seems that Hammami, after fondly noting encounters with Aweys in his autobiography, fancies himself in the same camp as Aweys today – on the outs with Shabaab but still right for Somalia.

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Is this a desperate call for help by Hammami to Aweys?  I don’t know, but I doubt Aweys, who is just about the oldest dude in “The Youth” (Shabaab), probably is not watching for Hammami on Twitter.


Hammami also posted some updates on Fazul which might also confirm Scenario #1.  Hammami suggests that Fazul was out of the al Qaeda game, drug back in and then set up to be killed for moving closer to Robow.

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 The Global E-Jihad:

One of the most interesting points of Hammami’s latest tweets has been his disdain for e-jihadi’s around the world.  He has apparently been reaching out to the global digital ummah and not getting much love.  Hammami seems to think the Internet jihad crowd is a fraud.

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Also of interest is that Hammami apparently tried to reach out to larger al Qaeda for refuge/guidance/assistance but al Qaeda gave him no love.  Ahh, boo hoo, Hammami answers al Qaeda’s call for jihad, but when Hammami tries to help al Qaeda gives him the no respect. I’d love to get Hammami and Adam Gadahn in the same room together.  I bet they are both so jealous of each other.

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