MOGADISHU – A US Islamist fighting in Somalia was killed Thursday in a shootout with Al-Qaeda linked Shebab militants, former comrades he had fallen out with, witnesses said.

Alabama-born Omar Hammami – better known as Al-Amriki or “the American” – was one of the most prominent foreigners fighting in Somalia, and the US State Department had offered a US$5 million (S$6.33m) 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, a small settlement in southern Somalia.

Two other extremists were also killed in the battle, including one other foreigner.

There were conflicting reports of the identity, with some reporting he was Egyptian, others suggesting he may have been British or Pakistani.

“Amriki and two other fighters, one of them foreigner, have been killed near Bardhere,” said Mohamed Wardhere, another resident.

Hammami, 29, moved to Somalia in 2006 and began to work for Shebab recruiting young trainees through his English-language rap songs and videos.

But he fell out with top Shebab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, for whom the US has offered US$7 million for.

In June, Shebab fighters loyal to Godane killed two of their own top commanders, prompting Hammami to flee.

Somalia’s Shebab is fractured into multiple rival factions, some based along clan lines and others ideological.

Some are more attracted by a nationalist agenda to oust foreign forces from Somalia, while others – including Godane – are seen as having more global jihadi ambitions.

Source: AFP