Jan 4th, 2010 TORONTO STAR....One of the most visible leaders of an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist militia in Somalia spent a year in Toronto ingratiating himself into the Somali immigrant community as a convert to Islam. Omar Hammami – known to followers as Abu Mansour "Al-Amriki" (the American) – ate at Somali restaurants and prayed in Somali mosques. He married a Toronto woman of Somali origin and had a daughter with her.
Then, after learning Somali ways, he left to join the Horn of Africa's top terror group, Al-Shabab, to wage Islamic jihad and recruit other foreign nationals to the cause, say former friends and relatives speaking publicly of the terrorist's Toronto connections for the first time. "He betrayed us," says a former friend who worked with Hammami at a Weston Rd. pizzeria. "For a man to be saying that, Islamically, it is okay to be killing innocent people – and yesterday you fed him bread and welcomed him into your houses – it kind of shatters you."
Omar Hammami is 25 years old. He grew up in Daphne, Ala., just outside Mobile. His mother is Baptist by religion. His father is Shafik Hammami, a Syrian-born engineer with the Alabama transportation department and president of the Islamic Society of Mobile. Reached by phone last week, he refused comment.
Although Hammami grew up Baptist, he converted to Islam in the late 1990s while attending Daphne High School. "He had tons of friends," fellow student Shellie Brooks told Fox News four months ago, "and of course things changed a bit when he converted because his beliefs changed." In September 2001, Hammami had just started computer science studies at the University of South Alabama – and been elected head of the Muslim Student Association – when Al Qaeda launched its suicide attacks on the United States.
At the end of 2002, he dropped out of school. How he spent the next two years is not known but in the fall of 2004 he arrived in Toronto from Ohio, says one of his best friends from the period. "He was interested in finding a large Muslim community," says the friend, a Somalia-born Torontonian who asks to be identified only as Abdi, because he says he fears Al-Shabab.
Of any Toronto immigrant community, the city's 80,000 Somalis are the most visibly Muslim, he says, especially the women who copiously cover themselves. Together, Abdi and Hammami took jobs briefly at a dairy distribution company. Afterward they moved to 1 Pizza & Fish & Chips, on Weston Rd. north of Lawrence Ave. W. "I became very close to him," Abdi says. "We talked a lot about religion. I knew a lot of his beliefs and ideology." Hammami considered himself a Salafi Muslim, seeking to practise Islam as people did in the seventh and eighth centuries. But he was not extremist, Abdi says.
Hammami arrived in Mogadishu in late 2005, only to be arrested as a spy by leaders of the Islamic Courts Union, says Abdi, who has been tracking his former friend through personal networks. But Hammami's credentials checked out. The Union, on its way to controlling much of the south in 2006, assigned him to its youth wing – Al-Shabab. Its leader, Aden Hashi Ayrow, sent him to Raas Kamboni training camp at the Kenyan border.
"He began to rise in the ranks," Abdi says. (A U.S. air strike killed Ayrow on May 1, 2008.) In October 2007, Hammami appeared, his face covered, on an Al Jazeera TV report, still accessible on YouTube, about Al-Shabab's and Al Qaeda's "common goal." The report identified him as fighter and military instructor "Abu Mansour the American." In May 2008, he starred in a 31-minute Al-Shabab video, face plainly visible, leading what he called an ambush against invading Ethiopian troops near the south-central city of Baidoa. Kenya's Daily Nation had reported that "Abu Mansur al-Meriki" had become No. 2 commander of an Al-Shabab unit of 180 foreign fighters led by Kenyan national Saleh Nabhan. (A U.S. helicopter raid killed Nabhan on Sept. 16 near Barawe.) more from this source.............
See email private investigator Bill Warner received from the Toronto Star this morning................
----- Original Message -----
From: Goddard, John
Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:56 AM
Subject: Abu Mansour Al-Amriki
I thought this update on Abu Mansour Al-Amriki, whom you correctly connected to Toronto, might interest you. From yesterday's Toronto Star:
Staff Reporter, Toronto Star.
See also Private Investigator Bill Warner Quoted in Canadian Press Article on U.S. Terrorist Najibullah Zazi Trips to Mississauga Ont. Terror Central in Canada.
TORONTO – Officials on both sides of the border erected a wall of silence Saturday over word that an Afghan immigrant arrested on terrorism-related charges in the United States made at least two trips to Canada.
The reference to Najibullah Zazi’s trips to Canada was almost made in passing Friday by U.S. prosecutor Tim Neff during a Denver court hearing. Zazi is accused of plotting to use weapons of mass destruction to attack commuter trains in New York City to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
They say Zazi was stopped by police Sept. 10 as he entered New York, and he dropped his plans for an attack once he realized that law enforcement was on to him.
Neff did not give any other details on the Canadian trips and a spokesman said in an email later Friday that he had no comment on them.
An FBI spokeswoman said Saturday the agency could not confirm “anything regarding this case at this time.” Reports say Saturday that agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service were knocking on the doors of relatives of Zazi in Mississauga, Ont, west of Toronto, Friday night. Beyond that, I cannot comment on any individual case before the courts, or any individual file that engages in national security.”
But a private investigator in the U.S., who touts himself as a specialist in tracking down suspected terrorists, as well as suspected philanderers, said the potential Mississauga connection is a “red-flag.” “That’s terrorist central in Canada,” said Bill Warner, a private investigator who boasts he has worked with the FBI on cases involving terrorism.
“If he was in that city, that’s one of the key spots in Canada for these terror connections and they link back into Atlanta, Chicago, Toledo,” Warner said. The FBI wouldn’t confirm Warner’s credentials, saying it could not reveal who the agency works with as a matter of policy.