US State Department offers $10m reward for Al Shabab leader over 2020 terrorist attack

Bounty seeks to bring Maalim Ayman and those affiliated with Al Shabab unit to justice for attack on Kenyan airfield

Al Shabab is considered by the State Department to be one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous conglomerates. AP
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The US State Department announced on Thursday a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Maalim Ayman, responsible for the January 5, 2020, terrorist attack at the Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya.

Ayman is the leader of Jaysh Ayman, an Al Shabab unit that conducts terrorist attacks and other operations in Kenya and Somalia.

In November 2020, Ayman was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under an executive order and was also designated by the UN Security Council’s Somalia Sanctions Committee.

The bounty is being offered through the department’s Rewards for Justice programme and extends to “any individual who committed, attempted or conspired to commit, or aided or abetted in the commission of the attack” that killed a US soldier and two Department of Defence contractors, and wounded two US servicemembers and a third contractor.

The assault that began before dawn lasted about four hours, witnesses and military sources said.

“The terrorist group [Al Shabab] continues to plot, plan and conspire to commit terrorist acts against the United States, US interests and foreign partners,” read a statement issued by the State Department.

In a video released by Al Shabab following the incident, a representative for the group claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it had left 17 US “casualties”, nine Kenyan soldiers killed and seven aircraft destroyed.

Maj Karl Wiest from Africom said after the attack that fewer than 150 American personnel were at the base at the time.

The Manda Bay Airfield is part of a Kenyan Defence Forces military base operated by US armed forces to provide training and support to East African allies and protect American interests in the region.

“Initial reports reflect damage to infrastructure and equipment. An accountability of personnel assessment is under way,” Africom said in a press release after the incident.

Based in East Africa, Al Shabab is considered by the State Department to be one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous conglomerates and is accountable for numerous terrorist attacks in Kenya, Somalia and neighbouring countries that have killed thousands of people, including US citizens.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 5:47 AM