US offers Sh3.6bn for intel on Shabab three leaders

According to Andre, the US alongside her partners has adopted a three-pronged approach towards fighting al-Shabab. Moving forward, the outfit will be dealt with by countering its religious ideology, going after key leaders and confronting al-Shabab on the battle frontline.

"By limiting cash flow to the group, the US and partners will strike a blow to the operations of al Shabaab," Andre said yesterday after Marc Dillard, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Nairobi, announced the cash rewards.

Financial mechanism

Additionally, another $10 million (Sh1.2 billion), will be given for information leading to the disruption of al-Shabab's financial mechanisms. This is the first cash reward for information regarding al Shabaab's financial networks.

The US Department of State's Rewards for Justice (RFJ) programme, which is administered by the Diplomatic Security Service, has the cash rewards on the heads of the three al-Shabab wanted leaders.

According to the US, since the inception of this programme in 1984, more than $250 million (Sh30 billion) has been paid to 125 people across the globe who provided information that helped resolve threats to her citizens and national security.

Believed to be Ethiopian, Diriye has been al Shabaab's emir since 2014 and labelled as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US in March 2008.

According to the US, Diriye was seen in a video meeting al Shabaab fighters prior to the January 2020 attack on Camp Simba in Manda, Lamu Islands.

In the attack, four people died, among them, one Kenya Defence Forces soldier, one US army soldier, two US contract personnel while three other people at the camp were wounded.

Karate was designated an SDGT on April 21, 2012. He is thought to be al Shabaab's second or shadow deputy emir. He continues to lead some operations, including command responsibility over Amniyat - al Shabaab's intelligence and security wing blamed for suicide attacks and assassinations in Kenya, Somalia and other countries.

Explosives expert

Mostafa is a US citizen and former resident of California. His country says he served as a military instructor in al Shabaab training camps, and that he is a leader of foreign fighters, head of al Shabaab's media wing and an intermediary between al Shabaab and other terrorist organisations.

Mostafa is also a specialist in explosives. He was in December 2019 indicted in a federal court on charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. According to the FBI, Mostafa is the highest ranking terrorist with US citizenship fighting overseas.

"Today, Ambassador Andre and I are announcing a new initiative under the Rewards for Justice programme to help remove the threat of al Shabaab and keep the US, Kenya, Somalia and the world safer," said Dillard.

The diplomat said the terror outfit has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks leading to the loss of thousands of lives.

Kenya has bore the brunt of the militia's violence, with the latest attack being early this month when the group hijacked an ambulance in Elwak, Mandera. Inside the ambulance were the driver, a patient and two paramedics.

"The US, Kenya and Somalia work together to reduce the capabilities of al Shabaab and other terrorist groups. Our goal is to prevent al Shabaab operations and to safeguard peace," Dillard said.

The information on the disruption of al Shabaab's revenue resources includes actionable leads into the group's exploitation of local natural resources, financial donors and facilitators, transactions and information on any al Shabaab-owned businesses.

Other information being sought is al Shabaab's international activity by front companies, criminal schemes involving kidnapping-for-ransom, illicit financial transactions, and money or material transfers to its operators, militia proxies and partners.

Information on Diriye, Karate and Mostafa can be passed in confidence through Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp at + 1-202-702-7843 or tip lines +254 718712366 of Kenya and +252 684343308 for Somalia.

"By limiting al Shabaab's cash flow, the US and our partners will strike a blow to the organisation's ability to perpetrate violent acts," Dilliard added.