Fascinating Story Of An American High School Kid Who Began His Life As A Typical Boy In Alabama And Became A Terrorist In Somalia

by Daniel Russ on January 31, 2010

Post image for Fascinating Story Of An American High School Kid Who Began His Life As A Typical Boy In Alabama And Became A Terrorist In Somalia Omar Hammami In Alabama On The Left, Becomes Shabab In Somalia On The Right

Hammami responded that he understood how strange it might seem to “fight for beliefs,” especially as he had once been a liberal (under the influence, he wrote, of the teacher he still referred to as “Mrs. Hirsch”). But he had come to the realization that “we don’t live in a utopian society.”

“When I came here I saw that firsthand,” he wrote. “There are villages that live in a constant state of war between rival tribes. There are roads that people cannot pass except with fear of being robbed or raped.”

He and his fellow fighters, he wrote, are helping those people. “Regardless of what the media says,” he added, “we do not kill innocents.”

Throughout the exchange, Hammami seemed to slide back and forth between the boy from Daphne and the jihadi propagandist. He asked his sister for news about his grandmother in Perdido (“Maw Maw,” he called her) and signed off “later tater” and “I love you.”

They soon lost contact again. These days, his family and friends wonder what will become of him.

“There is no out,” Dena said. “He’s in too deep.”

On Dec. 3, a suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Mogadishu, killing nearly two dozen people, including three Somali government officials. Somali and American authorities said the attack was carried out by the Shabab. That same month, Hammami seemed more taken by his cause than ever. “I have become a Somali you could say,” he wrote in the December e-mail message. “I hear bullets, I dodge mortars, I hear nasheeds” — Islamic songs — “and play soccer. Sometimes I live in the bush with camels, sometimes I live the five-star life. Sometimes I walk for miles in the terrible heat with no water, sometimes I ride in extremely slick cars. Sometimes I’m chased by the enemy, sometimes I chase him!”

“I have hatred, I have love,” he went on. “It’s the best life on earth!”

Source: Read The Jihadist Next Door In The NYT,

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/magazine/31Jihadist-t.html

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