May 17, 2012 -- An Alabama mother whose son joined an al Qaeda group in Africa said she can't turn her back on her boy even though he advocates attacking America and hasn't been in direct contact with her in years.
"If I could touch him for five minutes, I would be thrilled," Debra Hammami of Daphne, Ala. said of her son Omar who this week published a 127-page account of his road to terrorism from a small town in the American South.
"The silence has been devastating," she told ABC News. "I don't agree with the ideology of any of that, but I do love my son and I do have that motherly love."
Her son's account, "American Jihadist," comes two months after he released a video online in which he said he feared for his life after a falling out with other members of the al Qaeda group, called al-Shabaab. In the document he describes the roles and deaths of numerous Americans, mostly from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, who also joined with the al Qaeda group.
"Minnesota represented!" he writes. "Those Minnesota brother have almost all left their mark on the [jihad] and most have them received martyrdom; while the rest are still waiting [sic]."
Debra Hammami said that even though she doesn't agree with what her son has become, the memoir was something of a comfort considering it's the fullest account yet of what her 27-year-old has been doing in the shadows for the last few years. The two have had no direct contact since he disappeared in 2006 after telling his family he was going to Dubai for work and instead headed to the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
Omar Hammami, who later took on the moniker Abu Mansoor al-Amriki or "The American," recounts in his book his arrival in Somalia and how he fumbled his way through the city for days before meeting the militants he hoped to join.
"At any rate, I took them to the house and they told me that they were the Shabaab... and that they had come to take me to the place of the mujihadeen," Hammami says in the book. "I was extremely excited again."
Hammami describes the training he received, including from one instructor just called "The Spy," and joked that the American drones buzz overhead a "racist" against the white people in Somalia.
"They just want to kill off every white [fighter] they can," he says.
Throughout, Hammami is unrepentant for his decision to join the jihad and for his calls for violence against the West.
Amended to the book are his answers to questions posed by a journalist. When he is asked if he has any final remarks, Hammami just says, "Viva la Revolution!"
For her part, Debra Hammami said she still fears for her son's life and wants him back home.
"It is very devastating, [but] it's a day to day process," she said. "But I do love my son. I have that motherly love."