Sheikh Ali was appointed as the "Supreme Amiir" of Al-Shabaab in Kenya in 2012, and is known for his role in actively recruiting Kenyan youth to fight for the group. In 2008, he established the Muslim Youth Center (MYC) in his home city of Narobi. MYC is known for its role in recruiting young Muslims for Al-Shabaab. Throughout the years, he has made vitriolic statements advocating for jihad. In one instance he instructed his audience to "cut, peel, and slash [the throats of Kenyan] infidels."
Authorities have identified him as one of three suspects recruiting Kenyan youth for Al-Shabaab. One technique included the use of mainstream media advertisements for non-existent college opportunities in the Middle East and Somalia, in order to trick unwitting youth to join the terror group.