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US says report of 'rapping jihadi' death credible

Former Shebab field Omar Hammami teaches mujahedeen small unit tactics in a  September 20, 2009 video
Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (R), a former Shebab field commander from Alabama, whose real name is Omar Hammami, teaches mujahedeen small unit tactics in a September 20, 2009 video entitled "At Your Service Osama."

Reports of the death of US-born 'rapping jihadi' Omar Hammami, who fought for years in Somalia and whose capture was worth $5 million to Washington, were "credible," the US said Friday.

Witnesses said the Alabama-born Hammami -- better known as Al-Amriki or "the American" -- was killed Thursday in a shootout with militants with the Al-Qaeda-linked group Shebab, from which he had split.

"These reports appear to be credible, but we are not in a position at this time to confirm those reports, said deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

On Thursday, Harf had said Washington was working to confirm reports of his death.

If his death is confirmed, Hammami will be removed from the Department's Rewards for Justice list, where he was placed in April with a $5 million reward offered for information leading to his capture.

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

Jerky videos showed him enthusiastically promoting the Shebab's battle to overthrow Somalia's internationally backed government, but he later fell out with top Shebab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

Hammami, who referred to himself as the "former poster boy" of the group, accused Godane of betraying the former presumed chief of Al-Qaeda in east Africa, Fazul Abdullah Muhammad, leading to his killing in 2011 in Somalia.

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