The US is seeking information leading to disruption of the Somalia-based group’s finances as attacks intensify.
The United States is offering up to $10 million for information that will help disrupt al-Shabab’s finances as the al-Qaeda-affiliated group ramps up attacks on government forces and civilians in Somalia.
The State Department also announced Monday that it is increasing the reward for information on top al-Shabab leaders to $10 million through its Rewards for Justice program.
“Al-Shabaab is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Somalia, Kenya and neighboring countries, killing thousands of people, including US citizens,” the ministry said in a statement.
Washington seeks information on Al-Shabab’s ’emir’, Ahmed Diriye; his second-in-command, Mahad Karate; and Jehad Mostafa, a U.S. citizen described by the State Department as a leader of the group’s foreign fighters and media wing and the “top-ranking terrorist with U.S. citizenship fighting abroad.”
The State Department linked Diriye to a 2020 attack on a military base in Kenya that killed a US soldier and two contractors. The Rewards for Justice program previously offered up to $6 million for information about Diriye, also known as Abu Ubaidah.
Al-Shabab has intensified its attacks in Somalia as it has been battling government forces in recent weeks.
The group’s fighters were driven out of the capital Mogadishu by African Union peacekeepers in 2011, but still control parts of rural Somalia.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office in May, had promised “all-out war” against the group, and government forces and allied militias made some battlefield gains against al-Shabab over the past three months, retaking territory long held by them. belonged to the group. fighters.
In response, al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for double car bombings that killed at least 100 people on October 29 at the Ministry of Education in Mogadishu, the country’s deadliest blasts in five years.
This month, a suicide bombing claimed by the group also killed at least five people and injured 11 near a military training camp in Mogadishu.
The US military said last week it killed 17 al-Shabab fighters in an attack requested by the Somali government.
“Somalia remains key to stability and security throughout East Africa,” the US military said in a statement at the time. “US Africa Command forces will continue to train, advise and equip partner forces to give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabab.”
On Monday, the State Department said it was seeking information to disrupt the group’s revenue streams, including from “local natural resources, financial contributions from donors, … international activities of front companies linked to Al-Shabaab , [and] criminal schemes involving its members and supporters.”
Drought-ravaged Somalia is facing food shortages. The United Nations has warned that the country is facing its worst famine in half a century.