Nairobi — The United States government has offered a $10 million (Sh1.2 billion) for any leads on illicit financial flows in a bid to degrade the capabilities of Al-Shabaab.
A similar amount was offered as bounty information that could lead to the arrest of each of three senior Al-Shabaab leaders blamed for terrorist attacks in Somalia, Kenya, and other neighboring countries.
The reward, issued under the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program, which is administered by the Diplomatic Security Service, targets Ahmed Diriye, Mahad Karate and Jehad Mostafa.
The $10 million reward for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of al-Shabaab was also offered under RFJ.
The announcement was made Monday by the US Embassy Nairobi’s Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Dillard and the US Ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre’.
According to the US, Ahmed Diriye, al-Shabaab’s emir since September 2014, was seen in a video meeting with al-Shabaab fighters prior to the January 2020 attack on Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya, that killed one U.S. Army soldier and two U.S. contract personnel and wounded three additional U.S. personnel and one Kenyan soldier.
The second suspect Mahad Karate was designated by the Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on April 21, 2015, and by the UNSC’s Somalia Sanctions Committee on February 26, 2021.
Karate is al-Shabaab’s second or shadow deputy emir and continues to lead some al-Shabaab operations.
Another suspect, Jehad Mostafa is a U.S. citizen and former resident of California.
Mostafa has served as a military instructor at al-Shabaab training camps, a leader of foreign fighters, a leader in al-Shabaab’s media wing, an intermediary between al-Shabaab and other terrorist organizations, and a leader in al-Shabaab’s use of explosives in terrorist attacks.
In December 2019, he was indicted in federal court on charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabaab, and providing material support to al-Shabaab.
The FBI assesses Mostafa to be the highest-ranking terrorist with U.S. citizenship fighting overseas.
Ambassador Andre’ said that the Somalia-based AL Qaeda-linked jihadist group remains a direct threat to the people of Somalia, Kenya, East Africa, and the United States noting that the US remains committed to supporting President Hassan Sheik Mohamud in his efforts to defeat the Al-Shabaab.
“This program fortifies a key pillar of the Somali government’s own strategy for defeating al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has extorted funds from the people of Somalia for too long, using violence and intimidation to finance mass murder,” he said.
He appealed to anyone with information about Al- Shabaab’s senior leaders or financial networks to come forward.
“Together – as Kenyans, Somalis, and Americans – we can defeat al-Shabaab and enhance security across the region,”
While commenting on the disruption of Al-Shabaab financial networks, the US Embassy Nairobi’s Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Dillard said the move is aimed at identifying and disrupting the revenue sources and funding streams of the Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist outfit.
He added that President Joe Biden’s administration’s main goal is to prevent al-Shabaab operations and to safeguard peace and prosperity in the region.
By limiting al-Shabaab’s cash flow, Ambassador Dillard stated that the United States and its partners will strike a blow to the organization’s ability to perpetrate violent acts throughout the world.
He pointed out that this is the first time the Department of State has offered a reward solely for information on al-Shabaab’s financial networks.
“Since its inception in 1984, Rewards for Justice has paid more than $250 million to people all over the world. I encourage anyone with information on al-Shabaab to report it to our tipline at +254 718 71 366. Through this program and our continued united efforts, we will eradicate al-Shabaab and protect peace throughout the region,” he said.