For the fifth time, security forces have reported that Al-Shabaab’s director of Kenyan operations has been killed in an airstrike.
Ahmad Iman Ali, according to intelligence sources, is reported to have been killed last Friday when an unidentified aircraft conducted an operation on a building complex in the town of Bu’aale in middle Jubba, Somalia.
Sources within the ranks indicated that the Kenyan-born terrorism suspect was hit and killed together with over 40 Al-Shabaab militants.
The Kenya Defence Forces has, however, not confirmed if Ali was killed in any attack by KDF or any other forces.
Ali took over the leadership of the group in 2012 and is said to have been behind the establishment of various terrorist cells in Kenya, leading to radicalisation of youth.
He is believed to have also spearheaded the establishment of cells in Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Burundi, and DR Congo.
In March 2018, the US declared him a "specially designated global terrorist", putting a freeze on his assets and deny him access to the US financial system.
“Among the consequences, all of their property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them,” the US State Department statement read.
The brief said that Ali, also known as Abu Zinira, had targeted Kenyan troops serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), such as the January 2016 attack in El Adde.
“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. Ali has also served as an Al-Shabaab recruiter, focusing on poor youth in Nairobi slums, and has fundraised at mosques to support Al-Shabaab activities,” the statement indicated.
In 2015, Kenyan security forces announced that they were cracking down on investments they suspected were run by Ali in Nairobi’s Majengo and stalls at Gikomba market.
Ali, who graduated with an engineering degree from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) before joining Al-Shabaab, is said to have been operating the businesses through proxies.