US offers $10m for information on al-Shabab leaders, finances

 The United States is looking for any clues that might lead to the interruption of the Somalia-based group's financing as it steps up its attacks.

As the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab ramps up attacks on government forces and civilians in Somalia, the United States is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that may help disrupt the group's financing.

On Monday, the US Department of State also announced that, as part of its Rewards for Justice initiative, it would double the previous prize for information on senior al-Shabab commanders to $10 million.

Thousands of individuals, including US nationals, have been killed in terrorist actions carried out by Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Kenya, and other nearby countries, the department said in a statement.

The State Department has called American citizen Jehad Mostafa a "leader of the foreign fighters and media wing" of al-Shabab and the "highest-ranking terrorist with US citizenship fighting overseas." Washington is looking for information on al-"emir," Shabab's Ahmed Diriye, his second-in-command, Mahad Karate, and Mostafa.

In 2020, an attack on a Kenyan military post claimed the lives of one American soldier and two contractors, and the State Department has since tied Diriye to the incident. There was a $6 million reward given through the Rewards for Justice program in the past for information leading to the capture of Diriye, also known as Abu Ubaidah.

Al-Shabab has stepped up its operations against Somalia in recent weeks, as it has battled government forces.

African Union peacekeeping troops pushed the group's militants out of Mogadishu in 2011, but they still hold sway over large swaths of rural Somalia.

Since May, when President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office, government soldiers and allied militias have achieved modest successes on the battlefield against al-Shabab, retaking territory long controlled by the group's members.

In retaliation, on October 29 the bloodiest explosions in the country in five years occurred when two cars bombed the Education Ministry in Mogadishu, killing at least 100 people.

At least five people were killed and eleven were injured in a suicide attack near a military training center in Mogadishu this month, also claimed by the organization.

Al-Shabab fighters were targeted in an airstrike ordered by the Somali government, and the United States military claimed last week that 17 of them were killed.

The United States military noted at the time that "Somalia is essential to the peace and security in all of East Africa." The United States Africa Command will keep providing its allies with the training, advice, and equipment they need to destroy al-Shabab.

The State Department announced on Monday that it was collecting intelligence in an effort to cut off the organization's funding sources. These sources include "local natural resources, financial contributions by donors,... international activity by front companies tied to al-Shabaab," as well as "criminal schemes involving its members and supporters."

Drought-stricken There has been a severe food scarcity in Somalia. The UN has issued a warning that this is the worst famine the nation has experienced in 50 years.


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