Gulf of Aden Security Review - April 26, 2010
Yemen: Assassination attempt on British ambassador to Yemen fails; Yemeni government accuses opposition party of allying with armed rebels; al Houthi rebels kidnap Yemeni man; AQAP members may pose as Ethiopians to enter Israel; southern separatists sentenced to 10 years in jail; al Houthi rebels want 1,000 prisoners freed; Yemeni tribesmen attack oil export station in Ma’rib
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab fights on two fronts against government and pirates; al Shabaab seizes three towns from Ahlu Sunna; UN funding approved to fight Somali pirates, Somali pirate suspects charged in the U.S.; Spain captures eight suspected pirates; Ahlu Sunna denounces TFG for shelling in Mogadishu; roadside bomb kills two government soldiers in Mogadishu; al Shabaab calls BBC and VOA editors “betrayers of Islam”; al Shabaab distributes captured WFP aid to local residents
Yemen Security Brief
- The British ambassador to Yemen survived a suicide attack Monday morning in the capital city of Sana’a. The ambassador, who was unhurt, was attacked as his convoy passed through the city. No group has taken responsibility, although al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has launched similar attacks against foreign embassies in Yemen.
- The Yemeni government has accused the opposition party of allying with the armed rebels in both the north and south of the country to foment unrest. The opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) has organized protests in the past week calling for the government to ease its crackdown on southern separatists and has urged reconciliation between the two sides. Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mujawar said the opposition was “not serious about engaging in genuine dialogue.”
- Al Houthi rebels kidnapped a Yemeni man on Saturday in Harf Sufyan, and briefly detained a group of Saudi citizens. The incident is the latest in a string of violation of the truce between the northern rebel group and the government. The Yemeni man was released the following day.
- Four southern separatists were each sentenced to 10 years in jail for “harming national unity.” The four were convicted on charges ranging from “instigating armed rebellion” to “mobilizing people to disobey constitutional authorities.”
- Northern Zaidi Shi’ite rebels have demanded that the government release 1,000 militants currently being held in prisons throughout the country. A spokesman for the al Houthi rebels said the men that had already been released by the government were uninvolved with the rebellion. The spokesman also denied that the al Houthis had called for jihad against the government.
- Yemeni security forces have cordoned off an oil export station in Ma’rib governorate after local tribesmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at the facility. There were no injuries or damages caused by the attack. The attack was reportedly in retaliation for the death of a Yemeni tribesman in the custody of the security forces.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants moved on two fronts over the weekend, attacking Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces in Mogadishu, while advancing to the coastal town of Harardhere, a pirate stronghold. Somali pirates recently captured a ship carrying weapons to aid the Islamist militants and have no longer been paying bribes to al Shabaab. In Mogadishu, 10 people were killed and 40 wounded as a result of fighting between TFG and al Shabaab forces.
- Al Shabaab has captured three towns in the Galgudud region of Somalia from Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a. The Islamist militant group took the towns of el Der, Masagawaa, and Galad with no resistance. The loss of the three towns is a blow to the transitional government, which is allied with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a.
- A 10-nation panel at the UN approved $2.1 million to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia. The funding will go towards five projects in Somalia and neighboring countries to help ward off piracy.
- Eleven Somali men are being tried in a federal court in Norfolk, Virginia on charges of piracy. The men were involved in attacks on two U.S. Navy ships in patrolling the Somali coast. They have been held on U.S. Navy ships since their capture.
- A Spanish warship representing the EU anti-piracy naval force captured eight pirates off the coast of Somalia on Sunday. The Spanish frigate Victoria seized a whaleboat and several skiffs containing materials “suitable for use in a pirate attack.” After taking aboard the suspected pirates, the Spanish naval vessel destroyed the whaleboat.
- Clerics from Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a denounced the transitional Somali government for shelling in residential areas in Mogadishu on Sunday. The shelling left several dead in the Bakara Market neighborhood of the capital. Ahlu Sunna is allied with the TFG against the Islamist al Shabaab militants.
- Two government soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Mogadishu on Saturday. The bomb was allegedly targeted at senior government commander Mohamed Qatatow as his convoy passed a checkpoint. Qatatow survived the attack, but two of his guards were killed by the explosion.
- A senior al Shabaab leader has accused the local editors of BBC and VOA of betraying Islam. While addressing worshippers at a mosque in Mogadishu on Friday, Sheikh Fu’ad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, al Shabaab’s head of mobilization, he said many well known Somalis were enemies of Islam, including Yusuf Garad Omar of the BBC, and Abdurrahman Mohamed Yabarow of VOA. Songole went on to say that pro-western information is being used to mislead Muslims in Somalia.
- After seizing the central Somali town of Masagawaa, al Shabaab militants raided a World Food Program (WFP) warehouse and distributed all of the food aid to the locals. The Islamist group has repeated accused the WFP of being “spies” and has banned the aid organization from its territory.