On 5 January 2023, the US Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program published the offer of a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Maalim Ayman and/or any individuals who were part of the attack on US and Kenyan personnel at the Manda Bay Airfield on 5 January 2020. The press release states: “Maalim Ayman is the leader of Jaysh Ayman, an al-Shabaab unit conducting terrorist attacks and operations in Kenya and Somalia. Ayman was responsible for preparing the January 2020 attack. In November 2020, the Department of State designated Ayman as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)”.
World Watch Research analyst Yonas Dembele comments: “In recent years, the US government has been continuously targeting al-Shabaab leaders who have been responsible for organizing or leading attacks, particularly those involving the killing of US personnel. As reported by US Africa Command on 20 January 2023, US forces and the Somali National Army have continued to conduct ‘collective self-defense strikes’ on al-Shabaab fighting units. Despite such military action, al-Shabaab remains strong and continues to control large amounts of territory in the country. Since al-Shabaab has repeatedly stated its opposition to the presence of Christians in the region, its continued influence and operations are a threat to church groups - and especially to converts from Islam - well beyond the borders of Somalia. It should not be forgotten that al-Shabaab have perpetrated major attacks in countries such as Uganda, as well as Kenya.”