US offers Sh1.2 billion bounty for Lamu terror attack suspect Maalim Ayman

Al-Shabaab militants in Elasha Biyaha, Somalia, on February 13, 2012.

Al-Shabaab militants in Elasha Biyaha, Somalia, on February 13, 2012.

Photo credit: AFP

The US State Department has offered a Sh1.2 billion bounty for any person with information on suspected terrorist Maalim Ayman.

Ayman is accused of planning the January 5, 2020 terrorist attack on US and Kenyan military personnel at Lamu’s Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya.

The US Department of State’s Reward for Justice (RFJ) programme says Ayman is the leader of Jaysh Ayman, an Al-Shabaab unit conducting terrorist attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia.

According to RFJ, Ayman was responsible for preparing the January 2020 dawn ambush that left at least three people dead, more than five wounded, and military equipment worth close to Sh10 billion destroyed.

In November 2020, the Department of State listed Ayman as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).

In the dawn attack, Shabaab terrorists killed a US soldier and two US Department of Defense (DoD) contractors and wounded two other US service members and a third DoD contractor.

Shabaab attack

A cloud of smoke is pictured at Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu County following an attack by Al-Shabaab militants on January 5, 2020.

Photo credit: Courtesy

In a video subsequently released by Al-Shabaab, a spokesperson for the group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Lamu’s Manda Bay Airfield is part of the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) military base used by US armed forces to provide training and counterterrorism support to East African partners, respond to crises, and protect US interests in the region.

Based in East Africa, Al-Shabaab is one of Al-Qaida’s most dangerous affiliates and is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Kenya, Somalia, and neighbouring countries, in which the group has killed thousands of people, including US citizens.

“We encourage anyone with information on those responsible for the 2020 attack on the Manda Bay Airfield to contact Rewards for Justice via Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp at +1-202-702-7843, or via local tips lines at +254 71 87 12 366 in Kenya and +252 68 43 43 308 in Somalia. All information will be kept strictly confidential,” RFJ said in its announcement.