Watts said Hammami seems to indicate he is in a region of Somalia controlled by Mukhtar Robow, a rival al-Shabab leader of Godane's, so may have some clan protection there. But it’s unclear if Robow would save the life of the American, Watts said.
Hammami has been seen in videos among al-Shabab’s leaders, but he was passed over for a promotion and sidelined within the movement, Roggio said.
Hammami grew up in Daphne, Alabama, a bedroom community of 20,000 outside Mobile. The son of a Christian mother and a Syrian-born Muslim father, Hammami once served as the president of the Muslim Student Associated at the University of South Alabama. He moved to Somalia in 2005 or 2006.
Associated Press reporter Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.