The U.S. government has announced increased rewards of up to $10 million for information that helps find three leaders of Somali terrorist group al-Shabab. The three include the group’s top two leaders and a U.S. citizen who has been part of the group for the past 14 years.
The U.S. government is asking the citizens of Somalia and the region to help trace al-Shabab leaders Ahmed Diriye, Mahad Karate and Jehad Mostafa.
The three are accused of playing roles in several deadly terrorist attacks in Somalia and Kenya.
U.S. ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre, speaking in Nairobi Monday, said the new $10 million reward – doubled from the previous offer — will complement the Somali government’s effort to defeat the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group.
“Today we announce the doubling of the reward offers for information leading to the capture of those leading al-Shabab… We also announce a new program aimed at disrupting al-Shabab’s financial networks,” Andre said. “Let me stress this is in support of the announced strategy of the Somali government. So the Somali government strategy is to contest the false religious ideology, to go after finances and to confront on the battlefield to liberate the Somali communities.”
Somali government troops and local militias are involved in a military offensive aimed at driving al-Shabab out of dozens of villages and towns in central Somalia.
U.S. officials said arresting the al-Shabab leaders will disrupt the group’s operations and safeguard the region’s peace and prosperity.
According to U.S. authorities, Ahmed Diriye, also known as Abu Ubaidah, is al-Shabab’s top leader. He was seen in a video, meeting fighters who carried out attacks at a U.S. military camp in Lamu County, Kenya, in 2020.
Mahad Karate is the group’s deputy leader and has at least partial command over the Amniyat, al-Shabab’s security and intelligence wing.
Also on the list is Jehad Mostafa, a military instructor and the leader of the foreign fighters in Somalia. Mostafa — a former resident of San Diego, California — functions as an intermediary between al-Shabab and other terrorist organizations.
The deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kenya, Marc Dillard said the reward covers information about illegal financial activities and businesses.
“To further demonstrate our resolve to disrupt and dismantle al-Shabab’s network and support our Kenyan and regional partners, the United States is offering reward money for information leading to the identification and disruption of al-Shabab’s revenue sources and funding streams,” Dillard said. “This includes information on al-Shabab’s exploitation of local natural resources, financial donors and facilitators and financial transactions.”
Monday’s announcement marks the first time the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program has offered money for information on al-Shabab’s financial networks.