Did I grow up with a terrorist?

Published 1:48 am Saturday, September 12, 2009

It’s not every day that someone can say they went to school with an alleged terrorist.

Well, before last Friday, I didn’t know that I had.

When finishing the sports section last Friday night, I went to www.al.com to read some sports from where I grew up in Fairhope.

Lo and behold, that’s when my world felt a lot smaller.

The Mobile Press-Register featured a story titled, “Report: Former Daphne High, University of South Alabama student charged with aiding terrorists.”

The story went on to read, “A former Daphne High School and University of South Alabama student who once expressed horror at the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been charged in a secret indictment with aiding terrorists, according to a Fox News report.”

After reading that first sentence of the story, I was shocked, and what made it concrete for me was the big picture of him below the said story.

“Yep,” I remember saying. “That’s him.”

I was shocked because I went to Fairhope Intermediate School (fourth and fifth grade) with this guy, whose given name is Omar Hammami, the name by which I know him.

Now, he is known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, which is translated as “The American.”

The Omar Hammami I know is a boy from Turkey who would always make others, including myself, laugh at school.

I didn’t know then that he would grow up to be an alleged terrorist who has reportedly been “providing material support” to al-Qa’ida, according to the Press-Register.

From the research I have done on Hammami, he went to DHS, where he would visit the library between classes to pray based on Islamic teaching.

While at USA, he majored in computer science and he was noted as being against the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

USA’s newspaper, The Vanguard, reported him as saying, “Even now it’s difficult to believe a Muslim could have done this.”

I beg to ask the question to you Omar, what made you change your ways if the reports that you are helping terrorists are true?

About a couple weeks ago, I was driving to a sporting event, and I thought to myself, “I wonder what Omar is up to these days.”

Honestly, I wish I had found out the answer to that question in another way, rather than through a news report saying that he is an alleged terrorist.

Well Omar, you’ve gotten yourself in a world of trouble, if everything is true about you, of course.

For now, I’ll just hold on to those memories I have of you while in intermediate school where the air was split with laughter and my world was a lot bigger.