BiographyOmar Shafik Hammami was born in Daphne, Alabama, to Shafik Hammami (of Syrian and Irish descent) and Debra Hadley (of Irish descent). He grew up in Damascus, Syria, and came to Alabama to study as a civil engineer. Initially a Southern Baptist, he identified as a Muslim in high school; his family had already practiced some Muslim culture at home. His sister Dena left to live with friends at the age of 16 after finding her father too restrictive.
President of the sophomore class at Daphne High School and in AP classes, he began to grow flamboyant in his Islamic beliefs. He convinced his friend Bernie Culveyhouse to convert to Islam, and he left high school early to go to college. Omar's friends thought of him as a leader. However, relations with his father soured as Omar became a Salafist after getting influence from convert Tony Salvatore Sylvester. He became the president of the Muslim Students' Association at the University of South Alabama, and in 2002 his father asked him to leave home; he also dropped out of college.
Omar and Bernie headed for the city of Toronto in Canada to join the large Muslim community there, and in 2005 Omar married Somali immigrant Sadiyo Mohamed Abdille; his friend had married earlier. Omar followed the Second Chechen War and the insurgency in the north Caucasus, and eventually expressed his desire to join the jihad.
In July 2005, the two friends moved to Alexandria in Egypt, and both attempted to enroll at Al-Azhar University. They were both rejected, and Culveyhouse eventually returned to the United States. In November 2006, after meeting fellow convert Daniel Maldonado, Hammadi headed to Somalia and joined Al-Shabaab, the military arm of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). He lost contact with his parents when he lost his passport, and his parents were told that the USA had no diplomatic relations with Somalia, so he could not return home. He eventually disappeared and his wife and child returned to Toronto, his wife divorcing him in 2007.
In October 2007, Hammadi resurfaced on the internet, calling himself "Abu Mansoor al-Amriki". Due to his computer and organization skills, he was noticed by his superiors, and he was made a spokesman. In 2008 he stated that the goal of Al-Shabaab was to establish an Islamic caliphate "from East to West after removing the occupier and killing the apostates". He recruited 20 Americans from the Minneapolis area, and the United States government was confounded on how an American citizen had risen so high in the ranks of Al-Shabaab.
In 2007, he was indicted for terrorism violations by the Southern District of Alabama. On 13 December 2007 a warrant for his arrest was released, should he ever return home. On a 5 April 2009 video, he said that the reason why he left his family, cities, candy bars, and ice was because he was waiting to meet the enemy, and asked viewers to tell their children and their neighbors to fight for the jihad.
In September 2009, Omar attempted to reach out to his sister Dena, and reached out to her intermittently. Although his sister did not agree with his activities, she decided that she did not want to lose contact with him forever. Omar also revealed on Jihadology.com that he wanted a three-day visit to see his father, mother, and sister.
In 2011, he was thought dead twice; the first time in a shootout in Mogadishu, and the second time in a predator drone strike. However, he survived these attempts, and was not present. Although Omar had survived the foreign attempts to kill him, his overconfidence would be his downfall. He continued to be an obstinate man whose "narcissistic pursuit of fame", as Al-Shabaab put it, could not be stopped simply by talking to him.
On 9 May 2013 it was reported by Fuad Mohamed Shangole that Omar was killed by men loyal to the top commander Ahmed Godane. However, he was interviewed by the Voice of America in September 2013, proving that he was not killed. At the same time, Omar began to insult jihadist groups, saying that they should unite in a "jihad of the entire Ummah (nation)".
Omar Hammami was finally killed on September 12, 2013, early in the morning in the village of Dinsoor, southwest of Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab militants armed with AK-47s ambushed him and killed him, ending his jihadist adventure.