Members of al-Shabaab, a group linked to al-Qaida, in Somalia. The United States is offering rewards of up to $7 million for information leading to The location of seven key leaders of Somalia's al Shabaab, seeking for the first time to target top echelons of the al-Qaida-linked
"What we're about in Somalia is a comprehensive broad effort with a variety of partners in the region and around the world to bring stability to Somalia," said Karl Wycoff, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
PRICE ON THEIR HEADS
Thursday's announcement will for the first time set specific prices on the heads of al Shabaab leaders, topped by a reward of up to $7 million for information on the whereabouts of Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed, the group's founder and overall commander.Rewards of up to $5 million are being offered for Ibrahim Haji Jama, another al Shabaab co-founder, and group financier Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, along with military commander Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud and Mukhtar Robow, who often serves as the group's spokesman.The U.S. government will pay rewards of up to $3 million for information on the whereabouts of intelligence chief Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi and Abdullahi Yare, another senior figure, Hartung said.
U.S. officials say the Rewards for Justice program has paid out more than $100 million to more than 70 informants since it was established in 1984 and helped to find and convict 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, among others.The program has not been without recent controversy. The State Department in April placed a $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed, suspected of masterminding the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people. Saeed's whereabouts in Pakistan were not usually a mystery, and he responded to the U.S. move by holding a news conference mocking it.
Counterterrorism analysts said the new rewards could boost pressure on al Shabaab as it faces a three-pronged offensive by Kenyan troops in the south, Ethiopian troops in central Somalia and an African Union force near the capital, Mogadishu."Al Shabaab is starting to show some signs of fatigue and fissures that are going to hinder the group," said Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, a senior security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies."Putting these individuals on Rewards for Justice at this juncture is another thing which might encourage the demise of al Shabaab. We are at a tipping point here."Other analysts said that while the Rewards for Justice program had shown only moderate success in capturing senior leaders, it was useful as a signpost of U.S. priorities."The large rewards haven't had an impact in bringing the top guys to justice, but these notices are important to help define the enemy and informing people about who we believe to be the top-level threats," said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of its "Long War Journal" on counterterrorism efforts.Hartung said he was sure the large U.S. reward offers would tease out new clues about the whereabouts of al Shabaab's top leaders."We are confident that we will receive information pertaining to these seven," Hartung said. "What we do with that information, and the quality of that information, we'll have to wait and ."Reuters