ASSISTANT SECRETARY EVANOFF: So, good morning. My name is Michael Evanoff. I’m the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Today I’m joined by my colleague, Coordinator for the Counterterrorism Bureau Ambassador Nathan Sales, to discuss a couple of new actions in the department’s fight against global terrorism. After we make our announcements, I’ll provide you with an update on the opening of the department’s new Foreign Affairs Training Center, Security Training Center, in FASTC, down in Blackstone, Virginia, if wanted.
Diplomatic Security manages the Rewards for Justice program, which is one of the department’s most effective counterterrorism tools. Today we are offering a new reward for the information on two senior al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leaders, or AQAP. The first reward offer is up to 6 million U.S. dollars for the information on Sa’ad bin Atef al-Awlaki, the AQAP emir in Shabwah province, in Yemen. Al-Awlaki has called for attacks against the United States and our allies.
The second reward offer is up to 4 million U.S. dollars for information regarding Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi. Al-Qosi is known as Sheikh Khubayb al-Sudani. Al-Sudani and Mohammad Salah Ahmad are al-Qaida’s leadership within the AQAP. AQ – al-Qosi is part of the leadership team that assists the current emir of AQAP, Qasim al-Rimi.
Since 2015, he has appeared in AQAP recruiting materials and encouraged lone wolf attacks in the United States. Al-Qosi has supported al-Qaida for decades, to include having worked directly for Usama bin Ladin for many years. We urge anyone with information on these two senior AQAP leaders to contact Rewards for Justice via the RFJ website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals outside the United States may also contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. All information submitted to us will be kept strictly confidential, and relocation may be available for those providing accurate and credible actionable information.
And now I’d like to turn it over to Ambassador Nathan Sales.
AMBASSADOR SALES: Thanks, Mike, and good morning, everyone. I’m Nathan Sales, the Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism here at the State Department.
Today I’m announcing that the department has designated Amadou Kouffa as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, or SDGT, pursuant to Executive Order 13224. That order imposes sanctions on foreign persons who have committed, or who pose a risk of committing, acts of terrorism. This designation aims to cut off the flow of money to terrorists. As a result of this action, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Kouffa. And in addition, all of Kouffa’s property that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction is blocked.
Kouffa is a senior member in Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, or JNIM, an al-Qaida affiliate that’s active in the Sahel region of West Africa. Formed in March of 2017, JNIM has described itself as al-Qaida’s official branch in Mali, and it has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks and kidnappings since then. The State Department designated JNIM as both a Foreign Terrorist Organization, or FTO, as well as an SDGT in September of 2018.
Within the last five years, Kouffa and other JNIM members have been involved in terrorist attacks that have killed more than 500 civilians. They attacked a resort frequented by Westerners outside of Bamako in June of 2017. They perpetrated large-scale coordinated attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on March 2nd of 2018. And they have conducted a series of deadly attacks on Malian troops. Kouffa himself personally led an attack earlier this year that killed more than 20 Malian soldiers.
Today’s actions by the State Department come in the wake of the announcement earlier this week that French forces killed senior JNIM leader Ali Maychou in an operation in Mali. I’d like to echo Secretary Pompeo’s statement yesterday and applaud the courage, honor, and sacrifices of the French troops who achieved this victory. Together with our allies and partners, we will continue to place unrelenting pressure on JNIM, using all tools of national power.
Today’s designation, along with the RFJ awards that Mike just mentioned, are critical parts of the department’s overall strategy to counter al-Qaida. We’ve used military power to decimate al-Qaida’s core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we’re also using the full spectrum of civilian tools to defeat its networks and affiliates around the globe – sanctions, law enforcement, and border security, to name a few key lines of effort. With today’s actions, we are continuing that campaign of relentless pressure against al-Qaida and its networks, including JNIM and AQAP.