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U.S. al-Qaeda Member Rebuked by Somalia Militia Over Criticism

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate al-Shabaab rebuked Omar Shafik Hammami, an American member who is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted terrorist list, for appearing in videos critical of the Islamist group.

Hammami, a former Daphne, Alabama resident who is also known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, is accused by U.S. authorities of joining al-Shabaab and working with Somali militia as a fighter and leader since at least 2006. The 28-year-old was added to the FBI’s terrorism list last month.

“The opinions expressed by Abu Mansour, the alleged frictions and the video releases are merely the result of personal grievances that stem purely from a narcissistic pursuit of fame,” al-Shabaab said in a website statement. His views “are far removed from the reality on the ground.”

Al-Shabaab has been fighting since at least 2006 to topple Somalia’s United Nations-backed government and impose Islamic law in the country, which has suffered more than 20 years of civil unrest sparked by the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The group has been weakened since 2011, after African Union and Somali forces captured several of its key bases including the capital, Mogadishu, and the port at Kismayo, which had been a key source of revenue.

Al-Shabaab’s criticism of Hammami came after he appeared in videos in March and October, when African Union forces carried out a series of military offensives against the militia in southern Somalia and Kismayo, according to the statement. The videos were meant to “draw attention to the alleged voices of dissent” within al-Shabaab, where Hammami holds no “position of authority,” according to the statement.

Hammami has appeared in propaganda videos for al-Shabaab and is a ranking member of the group, the U.S. Attorney-General’s office said in 2010. Prosecutors in Alabama have indicted Hammami on allegations he provided material support and resources to a banned foreign terrorist organization, according to the FBI.

To contact the reporters on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu at ohamsa@bloomberg.net; Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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