American-born jihadi Omar Hammami
American-born jihadi Omar HammamiReuters

Omar Hammami, an American-born jihadi and one of the most notorious faces of Al Qaeda, has reportedly been killed in Somalia.

According to the Guardian, Hammami was ambushed by fellow Islamist fighters from Al Shabaab in southern Somalia.

Hammami had been fighting in Somalia on behalf of Islamist forces since November 2006, rising quickly through the ranks of Al Shabaab - a Somali terrorist group which in February 2012 announced its allegiance to Al Qaeda - as a fighter and chief propagandist.

He became infamous for his exploits on social media, posting a jihadi rap video on YouTube and avidly sharing his violent exploits on Twitter. 

His high-profile participation in Somalia's bloody civil war on behalf of an Al Qaeda-linked group drove the US government to offer a $5 million bounty for his capture.

But in recent years Hammami fell out with Al Shabaab's leadership, and since then he has spent most of his time trying to avoid being killed by his former comrades-in-arms. 

He drew the ire of Al Shabaab leaders after accusing them of lining their own pockets with taxes collected from ordinary Somalis. However, a number of analysts say his main gripe was that Al Shabaab was sidelining foreign jihadi fighters such as himself and taking a more narrow, "domestic" focus in the civil war, aiming to establish an Islamic state in Somalia as opposed to striving towards Al Qaeda's "global caliphate."

In March 2012 Hammami took to YouTube to voice his concerns that elements within the Al Shabaab leadership were out to get him.

The noose tightened further over the summer, when veteran Islamist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was ousted from the group by his younger, Afghan-trained rival Ahmed Abdi Godane. What followed was a bloody purge, as infighting between the two factions forced Aweys to give himself up to African Union troops and left Godane to focus his efforts on consolidating his control of the group - which included stamping out the nuisance posed by Hammami.

Hammami survived an assassination attempt in April of this year in which he was shot an injured in the neck and, in typical style, tweeted his condition to his social media followers in real-time.

"Just been shot in neck by shabaab assassin. not critical yet," he posted, later saying that Al Shabaab forces were trying to close in on him.

But it appears that Hammami's luck finally ran out after being ambushed in Somalia's southern Bay region. His killing was apparently directly ordered by Godane.

Omar Hammami, whose nomme-de-guerre was Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, ("the American") was born in Daphne, Colorado, to a Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father. He grew up secular but became radicalised in high school, and eventually left to join the "jihad" in Somalia.

Along with Adam Gadhan - a convert to Islam and former spokesperson for Osama Bin Laden, who is currently believed to be hiding out in Pakistan's mountainous tribal region - he was one of the most well-known faces of Al Qaeda in the west.

However, he was not believed to have been all that influential on the battlefield - apparently preferring posing for the camera and the prima donna-style antics which eventually cost him his life.