US extremist in Somalia fears for life from fellow fighters - Watch Video
Nairobi (Keydmedia) - A US-born Islamist fighter viewed as a key foreign leader within Somalia's Al-Qaeda allied Shebab militia has said he fears his life is now in danger from fellow extremists.
Omar Hamami -- better known as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki -- gave the warning in an undated video posted on several Somali websites and YouTube Saturday.
"To whomever it may reach from the Muslims, from Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, I record this message today because I feel that my life may be endangered by Harakat Shebab Al-Mujahedeen due to some differences that occurred between us regarding matters of the Sharia (Islamic law) and matters of the strategy," he said, speaking in English.
The bearded Amriki, dressed in a black top and with a checked scarf, posed in front of the Shebab's black flag and beside an automatic rifle in the minute-long video, but did not provide a location.
He provided no further details about the threats or differences with other Shebab commanders, who have been battling to topple the weak Western-backed government, which is propped up by over 10,000 African Union troops.
The video adds weight to reports of growing divisions within the Shehab, who face pressure on three fronts by regional forces and pro-government forces.
Amriki had previously been seen as a key leader for foreign fighters in the Shebab, alongside top Somali commanders Muktar Robow and Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aweys.
Some suggest Somali Shebab fighters view the foreign gunmen as a liability -- even as potential spies -- while missile strikes have targeted the foreign extremists.
However, the Shebab dismissed the Amriki's concerns in messages posted Saturday on Twitter.
"We assure our Muslim brothers that Al-Amriki is not endangered by the mujahedeen, and our brother still enjoys all the privileges of brotherhood," the Shebab said.
"A formal investigation is just underway and HSM (Shebab) is still attempting to verify the authenticity as well as the motivations behind the video," it added.
Alabama-born Amriki, who has reportedly been based in anarchic Somalia since late 2006 and is wanted by the United States on terrorism charges, has issued previous videos calling for foreign recruits, including singing rap songs praising jihad.
Britain's security think tank, the Royal United Services Institution, estimates the total number of foreign fighters within the Shebab to be around 200.
AU military commanders say they have reports some foreign fighters are fleeing Somalia for Yemen.
The hardline Shehab last month lost control of their strategic base of Baidoa to Ethiopian troops and pro-government Somali forces, the second major loss for the rebels in six months after the majority pulled out of the capital Mogadishu.
However, experts warn the Shebab are far from defeated and remain a major threat, especially now they have switched to guerrilla tactics in many areas after leaving fixed fighting positions.
Source: Agencies / AP
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