Center for Strategic Communication

[ Charles Cameron — receiving messages from the dead via Twitter ]

I was surprised late last night when a tweet from the account of the late American jihadi Omar Hammami showed up in my Twitter stream:

It was in Arabic as you can see, so I took it to Google Translate — which never quite makes sense but almost — and thought I recognized it, checked it out with the Quranic Arabic Corpus translation section, and it did look very much as though what @abumamerican had posted was from the Quran 7. 43:

Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this; and we would never have been guided if Allah had not guided us.

I checked with whoever was posting in @abumamerican’s name, and got the reply “you r right. Sura E Alaraf”.


Okay, that’s one part of any Islamist communication that interests me a great deal, and others often not so much — the epigraph, the scriptural basis on which the communication in question is based. Everything that follows should be read as a possible variation on that theme — see my earlier ZP posts Speak the Languages, Know the Modes of Thought and especially Close reading, Synoptic- and Sembl-style, for parallels, patterns.


In any case…

After that first, epigraphic tweet, a whole stream of further tweets from @abumamerican followed, many of them in English, and many of them indeed dealing with the notion that Omar Hammami had died remaining faithful to the Guidance, while his killer, Zubeyr / Godane, had gone wildly astray from it.

Others are better qualified than I to discuss the details of what the spectral @abumamerican said and will perhaps continue to tell us. For the moment, I can recommend these two sources:

  • Clint Watts post, Omar Hammami’s Ghost Tweets On Westgate, Kenya & Shabaab
  • Sahan Journal’s 8 Reasons Why al-Shabaab Killed al-Amriki
  • **

    Keep your eyes open, there will be more…