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Reports indicate American jihadi killed in Somalia
Last December, al-Shabab slapped Hammami publicly in an Internet statement, saying his video releases are the result of personal grievances that stem from a "narcissistic pursuit of fame."
Militants in Somalia have long hosted foreign fighters in the country. U.S. officials say that al-Shabab, which has been around since about 2006, counts several hundred foreign fighters among its ranks, including several dozen Somali-Americans from Minnesota.
Al-Shabab and al-Qaida announced formal merger in February 2012, but the Somali militant group maintained a reputation as being hostile to foreign fighters.
"Hammami brought a lot of unwelcome outside scrutiny on Shabab from the international jihadist community. His story will likely be a case study on what can go wrong when Westerners join jihadist movements," Berger said.
Hammami gave infrequent interviews to Somlia-focused journalists. Last week the Voice of America interviewed the wanted American, who said he was unlikely to ever return to the United States "That is not an option unless it's in a body bag," Hammami said.
Frequent Twitter postings over the last year alluded to the fact that Hammami's life was in danger. He had disavowed al-Shabab but in last week's interviewed still classified himself as a terrorist.
"i'll be a mujahid till the day i die whether it's shabab who kills me or someone else," Hammami wrote in an April Twitter posting.