By Perry Chiaramonte
The father of American-born Islamic extremist Omar Hamami, reported slain in Somalia, tells FoxNews.com that he has not heard official word on his son’s death.
“We have not heard anything other then what we have seen on the Internet,” Shafik Hamami said from his home in Alabama on Thursday.
Reports suggest that Hamami — better known as Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki or “the American” — was killed Thursday in a shootout with Al Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, former comrades he had fallen out with, witnesses said.
Hamami was one of the most prominent foreigners fighting in Somalia, and the U.S. State Department had offered a $5 million bounty for his capture.
“There was a gun battle between Amriki and his men and other fighters, the reports are that Amriki is among those killed,” said Moalim Ali, a resident in Bardhere district.
Reports of Hammami’s death have cropped up every few months in Somalia, only for him to resurface a short while later. But J.M. Berger, a U.S. terrorism expert who closely follows the inner workings of al-Shabab, said he thinks the current death reports are accurate.
The rebels did not immediately present proof of Hammami’s death.
Hammami was highly critical of Shabab’s leadership over the past year and freely shared his views in Internet videos and on Twitter, apparently making him a marked man.
Somalia has been an attractive destination for foreign fighters, and about two dozen Somali-Americans from Minneapolis have joining al-Shabab in the past several years. Hammami’s death will hurt the group’s recruitment efforts, said Abdirizak Bihi, an advocate for the Somali community in Minnesota and the uncle of a young man killed in Somalia in 2008.
Along with Adam Gadahn in Pakistan — a former Usama bin Laden spokesman — the 29-year-old Hammami was one of the two most notorious Americans in jihadi groups. He grew up in Daphne, a community of 20,000 outside Mobile, the son of a Christian mother and a Syrian-born Muslim father.
His YouTube videos that featured him rapping and his presence on Twitter made him one of the most recognizable and studied U.S. foreign fighters. The FBI put Hammami on its Most Wanted Terrorist list in 2012 and offered a $5 million reward in March for information leading to his capture.
U.S. prosecutors had charged Hammami with providing material support to terrorists.
The Associated Press and AFP contributed to this story.