The US is offering a $10 million reward for leads on Somalia’s Al-Shabaab leader


Issued: 2022-11-14 – 18:38

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The United States said Monday it was raising its reward for information on key leaders of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab to $10 million each, a move that follows a spate of deadly attacks by the jihadist group.

The US State Department also said it was offering a reward of up to $10 million for the first time for information “leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms” of al-Qaeda affiliates.

Al-Shabaab fighters have stepped up attacks in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and other parts of the country ahead of a major offensive against the group by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s new government.

The United States said it was offering up to $10 million each for information leading to the identification of Al-Shabaab “emir” Ahmed Diriye, second-in-command Mahad Karate and Jehad Mostafa, an American citizen it said had various roles in the group.

“These key leaders of Al-Shabaab are responsible for many terrorist attacks in Somalia, Kenya and neighboring countries that have killed thousands of people,” said a poster issued by the United States with pictures of the three men.

AWARD! Up to $10 million for information on terrorists MAHAD KARATE, AHMED DIRIYE & JEHAD MOSTAFA for their involvement in numerous attacks that have killed thousands of people in Somalia, Kenya and other countries. Do you know where they are hiding? SEND A TIP! pic.twitter.com/PFfrKmb2CQ

— Rewards for Justice (@RFJ_USA) November 14, 2022

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said earlier Monday that more than 600 civilians had been killed this year in attacks largely attributed to the group.

At least 613 civilians have been killed and 948 injured so far in 2022, according to the latest UN figures – the highest since 2017 and an increase of more than 30 percent from last year.

In the deadliest attack in five years, twin bombings on October 29, claimed by Al-Shabaab, killed at least 121 people and wounded 333 others in Mogadishu, the United Nations said, citing Somali figures.

“Total War”

The group, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in March 2008, has been trying to topple the fragile foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.

Its fighters were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by an African Union force, but the group still controls parts of the countryside and continues to carry out deadly attacks on civilian, political and military targets.

In August, after a 30-hour siege on a Mogadishu hotel that killed at least 21 people, Mohamud declared “total war” against the jihadists, who advocate a strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.

The US statement said Diriye, who has been leader since September 2014 after the killing of Ahmed Abdi Godane in a US strike, was designated by the US as a “specially designated global terrorist” in April 2015 and was given UN sanctions the same year. .

Karate, who was also designated a terrorist in April 2015 and also faces UN sanctions, continues to lead some al-Shabaab operations, the US said.

He also “retains some command responsibility over Amniyat, the group’s intelligence and security arm, which oversees suicide attacks and assassinations in Somalia, Kenya and other countries in the region, and provides logistics and support to al-Shabaab’s terrorist activities”.

Mostafa, an American citizen who once lived in California, has been a military instructor at Al-Shabaab training camps, as well as a leader of foreign fighters, a leader in the group’s media department, an intermediary with other “terrorist organizations” and a leader in the use of explosives in attacks , the United States said.

In December 2019, he was indicted in a US court on various charges linked to Al-Shabaab.

“The FBI rates Mostafa as the highest-ranking terrorist with US citizenship fighting overseas.”

In May, US President Joe Biden decided to restore a military presence in Somalia, approving a request from the Pentagon, which considered his predecessor Donald Trump’s rotation system too risky and ineffective.

(AFP)

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