By CHANNING JOSEPH and ROBERT MACKEY
Speaking in a brief video clip described as an “urgent message,” a man who appeared to be Mr. Hammami, using the name Abu Mansour al-Amriki (“the American”), said his “life may be endangered” because of tactical and ideological disagreements with the group, which he refers to by its full name, Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahideen. The video was posted on a newly registered YouTube account under the name “Somali Muhajir Warrior,” on Saturday by a user who claimed to be in Somalia.
“I record this message today because I feel that my life may be endangered by Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahideen,” said Mr. Hammami, “due to some differences that occurred between us regarding matters of Shariah and matters of strategy.”
As our colleague Andrea Elliott explained in 2010, Mr. Hammami is a charismatic 27-year-old known for hip-hop music tracks about his wish to die a martyr. Once president of the sophomore class at his high school in Daphne, Ala., he has in many ways become the American face of Islamism. He has urged young Muslims from the West to join Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda-aligned organization seeking to overthrow the Somali government.
The Shabab are known to have recruited about two dozen Americans in recent years, mostly young Somali refugees from the Minneapolis area. In July of 2010, the Shabab claimed responsibility for bombings that killed more than 70 people in Uganda who had gathered to watch the World Cup final on television.
One month later, the Justice Department announced the indictment of Mr. Hammami and 13 other people — many of them United States citizens —accused of funneling “money, personnel and services” to the Shabab. Mr. Hammami was previously indicted in Alabama in 2007, and has been wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since then.
The YouTube message posed a public relations problem for the militant group, as the video appeared to be the first time an American member — particularly one so widely known for his recruiting efforts — had publicly broken ranks. Al Shabab’s publicity arm quickly issued a denial on what appears to be its Twitter feed.