Al-Shabaab intelligence chief 'killed by Kenyan troops'

NAIROBI • Kenya's army said yesterday it had killed the intelligence chief of Al-Shabaab insurgents and 10 other commanders in an air strike in Somalia.

The US government had placed a US$5 million (S$7 million) bounty on the head of spy chief Mahad Karate, with Kenya celebrating what they called a "major blow" to the Islamist force.

Kenyan troops, part of an African Union force in Somalia (Amisom) fighting the Islamist insurgents, claimed to have killed Karate, a top commander also responsible for internal security, in an air strike at an Al-Shabaab training camp earlier this month.

Karate - the head of Al-Shabaab's Amniyat unit, a special security wing responsible for intelligence, attacks and assassinations - is said to have been involved in plotting the 2015 massacre of 148 people at Garissa university in north-east Kenya.

"The Kenya Defence Forces, under Amisom operations, would like to confirm that Mahad Mohammed Karate... and 10 other middle level commanders were killed in a major KDF strike," in southern Somalia on Feb 8, the Kenyan army statement read.

The claims could not be independently verified, and there was no immediate reaction from Al-Shabaab.

Karate was at an Al-Shabaab training camp to "preside over the passing out of an estimated 80 Amniyat recruits who had completed their training, and were due for deployment to carry out more terrorist attacks", the Kenyan army said. "It is confirmed that 42 recruits were also killed while many others sustained injuries."

Karate was placed on the US State Department's wanted terrorist list in April last year after the Garissa attack.

"Karate, also known as Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame, played a key role in the Amniyat, the wing of Al-Shabaab responsible for assassinations and the April 2, 2015, attack on Garissa University College," the US Rewards for Justice wanted notice reads.

"Al-Shabaab's intelligence wing is involved in the execution of suicide attacks and assassinations in Somalia, Kenya, and other countries in the region, and provides logistics and support for Al-Shabaab terrorist operations throughout the Horn of Africa."

Karate was the deputy of militant leader Ahmed Godane, who died in a US drone strike in September 2014.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2016, with the headline 'Al-Shabaab intelligence chief 'killed by Kenyan troops''. Print Edition | Subscribe