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US lists Shabaab leaders in Kenya as global terrorists

The US State Department has listed two Kenyan leaders of Al-Shabaab as “specially designated global terrorists”.

The targeting of Ahmad Iman Ali and Abdifatah Abubakar Abdi is intended to deny them resources needed to plan and carry out attacks inside Kenya as well as in Somalia.

Ali has directed Shabaab’s Kenyan operations for the past six years and is believed responsible for hundreds of deaths.


The State Department says Ali coordinated the January 2016 attack on a Kenya military base in el Adde that ranks as the worst military defeat in Kenyan history.

At least 150 Kenyan soldiers were killed in that raid, according to the United Nations.

“Ali is also responsible for Al-Shabaab propaganda targeting the Kenyan government and civilians, such as a July 2017 video in which he issues threats to Muslims serving in Kenya’s security forces,” the State Department related.

Ali served as a cleric for the Nairobi-based Muslim Youth Center, which announced in 2012 that it had merged with Al-Shabaab. He subsequently sought to recruit youth for Al-Shabaab in Nairobi’s slums

Abdi is wanted in connection with the June 2014 attacks in Mpeketoni, Kenya that claimed more than 60 lives.

Thursday’s designations deny Ali and Abdi access to the US financial system and can assist law-enforcement actions by the US and other governments, the State Department said.

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