The United States on Tuesday declared Ahmed Diriye, the leader of the Somali militant group al-Shabaab and Mahad Karate, a senior member of the extremist organisation a global terrorist, making it a crime to engage in transactions.
The State Department said in a statement the formal designation also allows the US government to seize any of their properties or interests in the United States, including those under the control of US citizens.
”The U.S. Department of State has designated Ahmed Diriye and Mahad Karate under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism,” read the statement.
Ahmed Diriye who is known as Abu-ubaidah was selected by al-Shabaab to replace the former leader of the hardline group, Ahmed Godane, who was killed in a U.S airstrike in September last year.
Following his appointment, the Somali federal government placed a $3 million bounty on his head.
Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame and thought to be the deputy of Ahmed Diriye, was described by the department for ‘’playing key role’’ in the amniyat department –a unit in the group specialized in executing suicide attacks inside Somalia as well as countries like Kenya, conducting assassinations, providing logistics and support for operations.
The Somali government placed a $100,000 bounty on his head earlier this month.
Al Shabaab emerged out of an insurgency fighting against Ethiopia, when its troops entered Somalia in a 2006 US-backed invasion to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was in control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
It has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Mogadishu and central and northern Somalia. Its attacks have focused on the TFG and its perceived allies, AU troops and aid organisations. The group has assassinated peace activists, international aid workers and journalists.
Al-Shabaab was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 2008 and has been responsible for dozens of attacks in Somalia and in neighboring countries like Uganda and Kenya. Earlier this month, the group massacred about 150 students in a Kenyan university.
The rebels still control many rural areas in Somalia where it imposes strict Shariah law, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of accused thieves.