US, Somalia reveal most wanted Al-Shabaab operatives
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The United States and Somalia have revealed three names of most wanted Al-Shabaab operatives, who have been on the radar for a couple of months but yet to be located given their highly sophisticated modus operandi, that is yet to be unearthed.
At the United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday, the US and Somalia listed the three operatives, who they now want the United Nations to slap sanctions, after establishing that they are linked to the terror group, which controls large swathes of rural central and southern Somalia.
The three include Abukar Ali Aden, deputy leader; Moallim Ayman, the commander of Jaysh Ayman; and Mahad Karate, ex-deputy leader and a powerful figure. The measure requires the approval of all UNSC members, but the council will first review the list before voting.
For years, the US and Somalia have often listed names of the Al-Shabaab operatives, their financiers, and sympathizers, with many of them now designated by the US State Department. However, the designation by the UN takes a little longer due to bureaucracies that are involved.
The move comes just a month after the US withdrew troops from Somalia, who have been training the local Danab troops. Most of the soldiers were redeployed elsewhere in East Africa, the US Africa Command had said in a statement.
In a statement before the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] on Monday evening, the UN special envoy to Somalia James Swan said the group increased attacks from August 2020 to the beginning of 2021, targeting various strategic points including military bases and various hospitality industries.
"Al-Shabaab continues to pose the primary threat to the security of the country. Al-Shabaab has increased its operational tempo since August 2020, and the beginning of 2021 has seen a new peak in the number of attacks, including more Person-Borne and Vehicle-Borne IEDs, targeting government officials and key figures in Somali society," Swan said in a statement.
But the envoy noted security operations have continued to bore fruits especially in Lower Shebelle, where the group has been enjoying support for a couple of years. The military has managed to liberate several strategic towns across the region, with the US precision strikes also eliminating terrorists in Middle Jubba.
"Important military gains were made by Somali Security Forces backed by AMISOM in the Lower Shabelle region in early 2019 and again in early 2020, and these are now being consolidated to enable further progress against Al Shabaab in other areas," Swan noted. "UNSOS has remained steadfast in delivery of support to AMISOM and eligible Somali forces throughout this period, despite the complications of the COVID pandemic."
Over the weekend, the SNA chief Odawa Yusuf Rageh said 50 terrorists were killed including Moalim Bukhari, the group's intelligence chief in Lower Shabelle, and Sheikh Hasan Ganey, the commander of the ops in the southern Somalia region, a further manifestation that the group is losing grip across the country.