Huge US bounty boost for Somalia terror war

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The US government’s latest offer of a hefty bounty of an equivalent of Sh2.4 billion targeting three Al-Shabaab terrorist group leaders underscores the need for continued cooperation to curb the grave global threat.

This is a big incentive that is meant to enable the identification and tracking down of terrorists and block financial transactions used to sponsor deadly attacks, destabilising the Horn of Africa. This is particularly of interest to Kenya as, sharing a largely porous nearly 900-kilometre border with Somalia, it is a direct victim of the terrorist network.

The Americans and terrorism experts are convinced that the seizure of the trio, one of whom is the brains behind the explosives used during attacks, will help to blunt the group’s effectiveness. Another target is to gather information to prevent Al-Shabaab from illegally making or obtaining money.

It is important that the US and other countries work closely with Kenya to incapacitate the terrorist group. There has lately been an upsurge in cross-border raids, targeting especially Lamu, where the Americans have a military presence.

One of the men sought is believed to have taken part in a 2020 attack in Manda Bay, Lamu, in which an American soldier was killed. These terrorists are suspected to be the masterminds of the increasing assassinations in Somalia and suicide attacks in Kenya and other countries in the region.

The cooperation between the US, Kenya and other neighbouring countries is essential to curb Al-Shabaab operations in the Horn. Recently, the group carried out an attack in Mogadishu that killed 120 people. This year alone, there have been four other attacks, in which scores of civilians have been killed.

The US initiative comes as the African Union, UN and Mogadishu decided on April 1 that Amisom be replaced by the AU Transition Mission in Somalia.

It will operate until the end of 2024 when the Somalia National Army (SNA) and other security agencies will take full control. Intensifying cooperation by equipping and enhancing the capacity and expertise of SNA will enable it to secure the country and bolster its sovereignty.