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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Jihadist Next Door

NYT

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ON A WARM, cloudy day in the fall of 1999, the town of Daphne, Ala., stirred to life. The high-school band came pounding down Main Street, past the post office and the library and Christ the King Church. Trumpeters in gold-tasseled coats tipped their horns to the sky, heralding the arrival of teenage demigods. The star quarterback and his teammates came first in the parade, followed by the homecoming queen and her court. Behind them, on a float bearing leaders of the student government, a giddy mop-haired kid tossed candy to the crowd.

Omar Hammami had every right to flash his magnetic smile. He had just been elected president of his sophomore class. He was dating a luminous blonde, one of the most sought-after girls in school. He was a star in the gifted-student program, with visions of becoming a surgeon. For a 15-year-old, he had remarkable charisma.

Despite the name he acquired from his father, an immigrant from Syria, Hammami was every bit as Alabaman as his mother, a warm, plain-spoken woman who sprinkles her conversation with blandishments like “sugar” and “darlin’.” Brought up a Southern Baptist, Omar went to Bible camp as a boy and sang “Away in a Manger” on Christmas Eve. As a teenager, his passions veered between Shakespeare and Kurt Cobain, soccer and Nintendo. In the thick of his adolescence, he was fearless, raucously funny, rebellious, contrarian. “It felt cool just to be with him,” his best friend at the time, Trey Gunter, said recently. “You knew he was going to be a leader.”

A decade later, Hammami has fulfilled that promise in the most unimaginable way. Some 8,500 miles from Alabama, on the eastern edge of Africa, he has become a key figure in one of the world’s most ruthless Islamist insurgencies. That guerrilla army, known as the Shabab, is fighting to overthrow the fragile American-backed Somali government. The rebels are known for beheading political enemies, chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery. With help from Al Qaeda, they have managed to turn Somalia into an ever more popular destination for jihadis from around the world.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Epaminondas said...

WE have spent a LOT of time in Daphne, Pt Clear .. this is NORMAN ROCKWELL AMERICA every bit as much as up here in rural eastern Maine

Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:33:00 pm  
Blogger rumcrook™ said...

so how do you go from living and growing up in a friendly compasionate empathy driven comunity, being a nice child,

to cutting off heads and living in a hell zone, and being one of the orchestrators of that hell.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:39:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Epa and Rumcrook,
It reminds one of how Sayid Qutb got angry with America after having lived in Colorado of all places.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Andrea Elliott. Fascinating read, excellently written. Islam is a mental institution that attracts and embraces those who are mentally disturbed and uses their illness for evil. Blow yourself up Omar. Do the world a favor. You are insane.

I was shocked once to hear on a morning show that Somalia didn't even have an alphabet until the 1980s. Poor folks being violently cohersed by insane evil doers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:27:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I did not know that about Somalia. So, they couldn't even read the Krayon, yet it is destroying their lives.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Misogynistic control issues - wanting it all . . .all on their own terms.

An unforgivable number of innocents end up paying the ultimate price for this mental disorder, up to and including the most innocent of all. . .this animal's abandoned daughter.

That people continue to audaciously defend & protect the instruction manual(s) perpetually fueling these misogynists' wet dreams poses a never-ending nightmare for us all.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:32:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Wait, according to Wiki, they've been using the Latin Alphabet since 1792:

Literature
Main article: Somali literature

Somali scholars have for centuries produced many notable examples of Islamic literature ranging from poetry to Hadith. With the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1972 as the nation's standard orthography, numerous contemporary Somali authors have also released novels, some of which have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim. Of these modern writers, Nuruddin Farah is probably the most celebrated. Books such as From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements, works which have earned Farah, among other accolades, the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Farah Mohamed Jama Awl is another prominent Somali writer who is perhaps best known for his Dervish era novel, Ignorance is the enemy of love.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your numbers are transposed in your first sentence Pastorius? 1972 while not 1980 speaks of a culture and people locked in ignorance for much of history. Very sad.

The morning show I saw it on was Good Morning America. I can remember Joan Lunden's face when the fact was uttered. She may have said something stupid that could have been twisted as racist. But she was stunned. The story must have had something to do with Black Hawk. She was still on GMA at the time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 5:58:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Actually they weren't transposed from my perspective.

I must be going dyslexic.

That's pretty bad on my part.

So, you were right, essentially.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 6:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always right, ... these days:)

I used to be always left, ... but now I'm always right, rightly so!

Sunday, January 31, 2010 3:44:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Right-e-o!

Sunday, January 31, 2010 4:44:00 am  
Blogger Epaminondas said...

Obviously since Somalia was ok until after 1972 the problem must be the Latin Alphabet. It causes violence


Too bad we can't blame it on he Hebrew one

Sunday, January 31, 2010 11:49:00 am  

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