The United States continues to target the terrorist group al-Qaida and its deadly affiliates, including al-Shabaab. Most recently, the State Department designated al-Shabaab senior leaders Abdullahi Osman Mohamed and Maalim Ayman as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
Abdullahi Osman Mohamed, also known as “Engineer Ismail,” is al-Shabaab’s senior explosives expert responsible for the overall management of the terrorist group’s explosives operations and manufacturing. He is also a special adviser to the so-called “emir” of al-Shabaab and is 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 was designated as a terrorist organization in March 2008 and continues to threaten the peace, security, and stability of Somalia, as well as Kenya.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, “The U.S. 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.” This will require “working closely with our partners to degrade the terrorist group’s capacity and operations, combatting its control and influence in East Africa.”
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.
These designations are part of a broader effort to counter terrorism overseas, said Nathan Sales, Coordinator for Counterterrorism. “We’re bringing all of our tools to this fight – not just sanctions but also information sharing, counter messaging, combating travel, and building partner capacity to protect soft targets.”
Coordinator Sales added, the United States is “prepared to target any foreign terrorist group that threatens our citizens, our interests abroad, or our allies. We aim to disrupt terrorist threats like al-Shabaab with our designations, and [these] actions will do just that.”