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Rapping Terrorist Accused of Not Writing His Own Jihadi Rhymes
Omar Hammami: not just an American jihadist, but a fake emcee.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It’s not enough that the most famous American jihadist in Somalia is a terminally wack rapper. Now Omar Hammami stands accused of not even writing his own lyrics.

And in what may be a face-saving abandonment of the jihadi rap game entirely, a Twitter account close to Hammami — possibly even operated by Hammami himself — is pretty much conceding that Hammami used a ghostwriter. #Flexbomb

It’s like the terrorist version of P. Diddy’s famous “If I don’t write it well, I recite it well” concession. Except Omar Hammami did not even recite it well.

To back up: Omar Hammami, or Abu Mansour al-Amriki, is one of the highest-profile Americans to ever join an al-Qaida affiliate. He quickly established himself as a unique sort of English-language propagandist for Somalia’s al-Shabab. “Land by land / and war by war / only gonna make our black flag soar / drip by drip / shot by shot / only gonna give us the death we sought,” he rapped in 2009. In 2011, the Alabama-bred rapper spat, “It ain’t do or die/ it’s do or paradise” on a track called “Send Me A Cruise” (as in cruise missile). And Hammami had the unmitigated gall to flip Tupac’s “Hail Mary” on “Make Jihad With Me.” (“Attack America now/ martyrdom or victory/ we takin’ Nairobi to Addis [Ababa].”) Pretty terrible, but still good enough for WorldStar.

But last year, Hammami had an abrupt falling out with al-Shabab. He recorded a YouTube clip in March warning that his “life may be in danger” by his former allies. For the better part of a year, it’s looked like Hammami’s life was touch and go: In January he recorded another video, ominously titled “Final Appeal.” But while Shabab put Hammami on notice thereafter that he had 15 days to turn himself over to them — in the words of the Outlawz, the got an APB out on his thug family — it appears that a Somali tribe is sheltering him.

Now, however, Hammami’s old allies aren’t just trying to end him. They’re trying to end his rap career.

A 17-page PDF circulating online by an apparent former colleague calling himself Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir terms Hammami a fraud in every way. “A brittle mental construct of his own making” is one of the nicer descriptions.” He’s militarily incompetent; he even got his metaphorical chain snatched. (That is, his gun and $200 were allegedly stolen once.) He spends too much time on Twitter. But not only is Hammami a fake thug, he’s a fake emcee.

“Worth noting here also is that the Jihadi rap Nasheeds, ‘Send Me A Cruise’ and ‘Make Jihad With Me,’ that are often erroneously attributed to Abu Mansur are the work of another Muhajir — another American Mujahid — but, of course, Abu Mansur would never say otherwise since the Nasheeds ‘perfect’ and complement his projected self-image,” Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir wrote.

Even the best rappers sometimes use ghostwriters. But Omar Hammami is no Nas. Except when it came time for his camp to respond, they conceded.

As terrorism expert J.M. Berger noted, a figure that may be Hammami himself. At the very least, a Twitter account called @AbuMAmerican frequently speaks in Hammami’s defense. On Thursday, he tweeted: “Thank God the shabab got those awful raps off my back. They were attributed to amriki without permission.”

That’s not exactly a total confirmation of the general ghostwriting allegation — except in one case, “Send Me A Cruise,” which @AbuMAmerican says Hammami did not write. In any event, with that, Hammami’s friends — perhaps Hammami himself — effectively delivered Hammami’s resignation from rap.

Berger notes that there may be something deeper going on. Between the accusations of Hammami’s ineptitude at jihad and AbuMAmerican/Hammami’s repudiation of the jihadist raps, Hammami appears to be rehabbing his image as a bit part in the jihad, although he’s not renounced his jihadi beliefs.

“The raps were pretty terrible,” Berger tells Danger Room. “If he’s not responsible for even one, that’s a black mark erased from his record.”


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