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US Designates Kenya's Al- Hijra As A Terrorist Group
Africa

US Designates Kenya's Al- Hijra As A Terrorist Group

The State Department announced today that the US government’s terror designation for Shabaab has been amended to include Al-Hijra, a “wing” of the group based in Kenya. Shabaab is al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, a fact that it continues to advertise even as it wages a prolific insurgency against Somali forces and their international allies. A $3M bounty has been declared on the head of the leader of Al Hijra Ayman Ahmed Ali. Al-Hijra, which was established in 2008, is “extensively interconnected with” Shabaab “both organizationally and operationally,” according to State. It “consists primarily of Kenyan and Somali followers” of Shabaab and has “openly engaged” in “recruiting” for the group in Kenya, while also facilitating the “travel” of “Shabaab members to Somalia for terrorism purposes.” Although the State Department doesn’t say it, Al-Hijra has also played a key role in Shabaab’s external operations — that is, plotting terrorist attacks outside of Somalia’s borders. And the group’s senior leaders have been hunted down as part of a US-backed counterterrorism program. One of Shabaab’s worst terrorist attacks to date was carried out at the Westgate Mall in Kenya in Sept. 2013. Just two months before more than 70 people were massacred in that mall, a group of UN experts warned that Al-Hijra was helping Shabaab plan “new and more complex operations.” That warning was contained in a report published by the UN’s Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea on July