US declares Manda Bay attack planners ‘designated terrorists’

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 00:00 |
Manda Bay’s Camp Simba on fire during the attack. Photo/PD/FILE

The United States government has imposed sanctions on two senior al Shabaab leaders behind last January’s attack on Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu county that claimed lives of three people, including an American soldier.

Abdullahi Osman Mohamed, a senior explosives expert and Maalim Ayman who is believed to have planned the attack, have been declared, “specially designated global terrorists.”

As a result, all the assets they may have in the US jurisdictions are frozen and Americans banned from doing business with them.

During a briefing to the media at the State Department last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US had designated Mohamed who is also the leader of the terror group’s media wing, al-Kataib, and Ayman who was responsible for the attack.

“US 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.

Special Advisor

United States had designated al Shabaab as a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ in 2008.

The attack was the first on the US forces in Kenya by the al Shabaab.

The victim, a Fort Rucker soldier Henry Mitch Mayfield 23, was killed alongside two other US contractors during the attack where five other terrorists were also killed.

During the attack six US contractor aircrafts and vehicles were also destroyed.

Mayfield joined the Army in June 2018 and graduated with basic training in October.

US authorities, Mohammed is also a special advisor to the emir of al Shabaab while his colleague, Ayman is the leader of Jaysh Ayman, a unit behind the attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia.

The dawn attack at around 5.30am involved indirect and small arms fire after penetration of the perimeter wall.

Manda is utilised by the US forces whose mission includes providing training to African partners, responding to crisis and protecting US interests around the region.

Camp Simba was established more than a decade ago and has about 100 personnel.

Just before the attack, a villager reported that he saw at least 11 suspected terrorists entering Boni Forest, which the militants have used as a hideout.

The announcement came just two weeks after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted to extend an arms embargo on Somalia and ban the sale or shipment to the country of components for improvised explosive devices if there is “significant risk” they may be used in manufacturing IEDs.

The Executive Order 13224, signed by former President George Bush in September 2001, provides a means by which to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists by authorising the US government to designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.

The designation aims at deterring donations, heightening public awareness, disrupt terrorist networks and encourage designated entities to get out of the terrorism business.

The UNSC has rejected Kenya’s request to blacklist al Shabaab as a terrorist group claiming the move would bring humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

In an interview early this year, the US Ambassador Kyle McCarter said the US formally designated al Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 2008.

“But we have not done it under the UN resolution 1267 the way Kenya wants, which would require us to withdraw humanitarian aid to Somalia,” he said.

In September, the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i also ordered for freezing of funds and property of nine terror suspects.

Military operations

The new move followed the reorientation of the country’s counterterrorism policy that now incorporate preventive and socio-economic interventions into the existing security and military operations.

Listed suspects are Halima Adan Ali, Waled Ahmed Zein, Sheikh Guyo Gorsa Boru, Mohammed Abdi Ali aka Abu Fidaa, and Nuseiba Mohammed Haji.

Others are Abdimajit Adan Hassan, Mohammed Ali Abdi, Muktar Ibrahim Ali, and Mire Abdullahi Elmi.

Matiang’i has warned that terrorism remains the single biggest threat to global peace and security, and that there was need to adopt other new strategies.

He has further warned that terrorists were also progressively planting operatives among the civilians strategically to advance their agenda through recruitment and radicalisation to violent extremism and terrorism.

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