U.S. Blacklists Two Al-Shabaab Leaders over Attack on Kenya Military Base

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on two senior leaders of Islamist militant group al-Shabaab – Abdullahi Osman Mohamed and Maalim Ayman – accused of responsibility in an attack on a military base in Kenya.

The duo were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, the U.S. Department of State said in a statement.

“U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Mohamed and Ayman. Their property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked,” the state department said in a statement.

One US military service member and two contractors were killed in the January attack in Camp Simba on Manda Island. It was the first attack by al-Shabab on US forces in Kenya.

The statement said Mohamed is al-Shabaab’s senior explosives expert and leader of its media wing, while Ayman is responsible for planning the attack on Camp Simba.

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The statement read, “… today, the Department of State has designated Abdullahi Osman Mohamed and Maalim Ayman, senior leaders of al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based al-Qa’ida affiliate, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under section 1(a)(ii)(B) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

“Abdullahi Osman Mohamed, a senior al-Shabaab official also known as “Engineer Ismail,” is the terrorist group’s senior explosives expert responsible for the overall management of al-Shabaab’s explosives operations and manufacturing. He is also a special adviser to the so-called “emir” of al-Shabaab and the leader of al-Shabaab’s media wing, al-Kataib. Maalim Ayman is the leader of Jaysh Ayman, an al-Shabaab unit conducting terrorist attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia. Ayman was responsible for preparing the January 2020 attack on Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya, that killed one U.S. military service member and two American contractors.

“Al-Shabaab, which the Department of State designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and SDGT in March 2008, is one of al-Qa’ida’s most dangerous affiliates. It continues to threaten the peace, security, and stability of Somalia, as well as Kenya. The U.S. Government is committed to disrupting the illicit financing methods of al-Shabaab, limiting its ability to conduct further attacks against civilians, and supporting the Federal Government of Somalia in disrupting terrorism finance. Addressing the al-Shabaab threat will require working closely with our partners to degrade the terrorist group’s capacity and operations, combatting its control and influence in East Africa.

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“As a result of these designations, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Mohamed and Ayman. Their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked. In addition, it is a crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to al-Shabaab.

“Today’s designations notify the U.S. public and the international community that Abdullahi Osman Mohamed and Maalim Ayman are leaders of a terrorist organization. Terrorist designations expose and isolate entities and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, these designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments.”

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