Gulf of Aden Security Review - August 5, 2013

Yemen: Extended closure of embassies in Sana’a; Yemeni officials provided intelligence to U.S.; AQAP reportedly infiltrates Sana’a; suspected AQAP gunmen assassinate intelligence officer in al Bayda; al Houthis clash with tribesmen in al Radma, Ibb; tribesmen blow up pipeline in Ma’rib; popular committee captures suicide bomber in Abyan; President Hadi visits Saudi Arabia; tribal vendetta kills four children in Dhamar; Special Forces protest in Dhamar; al Houthis launch campaign of arrests in Sa’ada; military protests include 13th Brigade in Ma’rib, Sana’a; man with links to AQAP to be extradited from Nigeria

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab launches attack in Mogadishu; tightened security in Mogadishu after attacks; al Shabaab infighting in Gobale, Lower Shabelle; al Shabaab raids Baidoa, Bay region; AMISOM leaders meet in Uganda; Ugandan foreign affairs minister calls for more AMISOM troops; Kismayo seaport will belong to Somali government; Somalia trains military police in Uganda; Radio Galkayo director survives assassination attempt; AMISOM forces accidentally kill truck driver; MYC responds to UN Monitoring report

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. State Department announced on August 4 that 19 embassies and consulates, including the one in Yemen, would stay closed until the end of the week. The UK embassy in Yemen will also not re-open until the end of Ramadan. Yemeni soldiers established checkpoints and closed roads leading to the U.S. and British embassies.[1]
  • Yemeni security personnel provided intelligence to U.S. security agencies about a terror threat emanating from Yemen during President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s visit to Washington on August 1. Intelligence officials reportedly intercepted coded communication between Pakistan and Yemen mentioning preparations for Eid al Fitr. Seth Jones of Rand Corporation reported that al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri appointed Nasser al Wahayshi as “general manager of the terror network.” Wahayshi, a native Yemeni, is the head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). One source reported that in an intercepted communication Zawahiri gave instructions to Wahayshi to conduct an attack.[2]
  • Local witnesses and security sources reported that members of AQAP infiltrated Sana’a from Abyan, Shabwah, Hadramawt and Ma’rib over the past few days. The interior ministry issued alerts to local security forces and increased patrols and security checkpoints around vulnerable locations such as foreign embassies and oil companies.[3]
  • Suspected AQAP gunmen assassinated Mohammed al Ma’mari, a colonel in the Political Security Organization, in al Bayda on August 4.[4]
  • Renewed clashes between al Houthis and tribesmen in al Radma, Ibb governorate wounded two and killed one on August 3. The clashes were caused by al Houthis setting up security checkpoints for a planned festival.[5]
  • Men from the al ‘Ayshan tribe blew up the oil pipeline in al Damashqa, Ma’rib governorate on August 3.[6]
  • The popular committee of Lawder, Abyan governorate captured a Saudi with an explosive belt whom they said was targeting the committee. The man admitted that there were five other suicide bombers.[7]
  • President Hadi visited Saudi Arabia on August 3 on his return trip from Washington.[8]
  • Four children died and four were wounded, all from the al ‘Athin family, in a tribal conflict between Bani Suwaid and the ‘Athin in Jahran, Dhamar governorate on August 4.[9]
  • Special Forces Soldiers protested outside their commander’s camp in Dhamar and prevented him from entering his office on August 3. They also shot at the security director of Dhamar when he came to try to control the situation. The soldiers were protesting because they did not receive a Ramadan bonus.[10]
  • Al Houthis began a campaign of arrests in Haidan, Sa’ada governorate after one of their leaders was killed. The leader was killed after attempting to forcibly take money from citizens when the citizens refused to pay “zakat” to the al Houthis.[11]
  • The 13th Brigade protested in Ma’rib on August 2 in conjunction with troops protesting in Sana’a. A soldier called the protests “a revolution of change.” One soldier died under unclear circumstances.[12]
  • The Nigerian government is preparing to extradite Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, a Nigerian accused in July 2012 of receiving funding from AQAP, to the United States. Babafemi is wanted by U.S. courts for attempting to aid a foreign terrorist organization.[13]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab fighters launched five mortar shells and several grenades in a coordinated series of guerilla-style attacks in the capital city of Mogadishu on August 4, sparking retaliatory gunfire from Somali security forces. Casualty numbers were not clear but were believed to be low. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Mus'ab promised more attacks through the concluding days of Ramadan.[14]
  • Police and security forces imposed strict security measures in Mogadishu on August 5. Public buses were prohibited from traveling on the main roads, including those leading to the airport and presidential palace.[15]
  • Local sources reported clashes between supporters of al Shabaab leaders Sheikh Abu Zubair “Godane” and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow in Gobale, Lower Shabelle region on August 3. 16]
  • Al Shabaab militants wounded at least 10 people in a raid on the southern town of Baidoa, Bay region on August 4 while targeting towns and Somali government troop bases.[17]
  • Heads of State from AMISOM troop-contributing countries met in Kampala, Uganda on August 4 to discuss the mission and its future. The summit followed a meeting attended by Foreign and Defense Ministers of the countries on August 3.[18]
  • Sam Kutesa, the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister, has called for an expansion of AMISOM troops from 17,731 to 20,000 in order to more effectively prevent al Shabaab from gaining back territory.[19]
  • Regional leaders agreed to give the Federal Republic of Somalia control of the Kismayo seaport and airport, ending a dispute with Kenya over control of the strategic facilities.[20]
  • Somalia has added a military police force to its armed forces, as 120 Somalis have completed a four month long EU-led course at the Bihanga military barrack training camp in the Kamwenge district of Uganda.[21]
  • An assassination attempt on Radio Galkayo Director Awil Mohamud Abdi failed in Galkayo, Mudug region August 2. Adbi was able to avoid the seven bullets that penetrated his bedroom window. Al Shabaab is suspected, but did not claim credit.[22]
  • A truck driver was accidentally shot and killed by AMISOM forces on August 3 at their Mogadishu base as he drove towards the base’s gates and did not heed the soldiers’ warnings to stop. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, AU Special Representative to Somalia, has promised an investigation.[23]
  • In a response to the UN Monitoring Group’s July 12 report on Somalia and Eritrea, the Muslim Youth Center (MYC) accused the UN of “tarnishing the images of innocent Muslims” in a statement on August 2. The MYC’s press office confirmed the group’s commitment to global jihad and support for al Shabaab. The announcement also said that the MYC will continue to expand its training.[24]

[1] “Britain Extends Closure of Yemen Embassy,” AFP, August 5, 2013. Available: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/08/05/britain-extends-closure-yemen-embassy/
Jen Psaki, “Statement on Update of Embassy and Consulate Closure,” U.S. Department of State, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/08/212660.htm
[2] “Secret Word for Terrorist Operation Planned by al Qaeda in Yemen,” Sada Aden, August 5. 2013, [Arabic]. Available: http://www.sadaaden.com/local/79-local/31960
“Officials: Chatter Among Al Qaeda Operatives in Yemen Led to U.S. Warnings,” CNN, August 3, 2013. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/02/world/meast/yemen-al-qaeda
Ali Watkins, David Lightman and Adam Baron, “U.S. extends embassy closings; warnings renew debate over NSA data collection,” McClatchy, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/08/04/5055496/embassy-closings-travel-warning.html
[3] “Sources: al Qaeda Invades Capital Sana’a,” Barakish, August 5, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=54122
[4] “Breaking: Assassination of Political Security Officer in al Bayda,” Barakish, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=54096
Ahmed al-Haj, “Gunmen Kill Intelligence Official in Yemen,” Associated Press, August 4, 2013. Available: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/gunmen-kill-intelligence-official-yemen-19867539
[5] “Breaking: Renewed Clashes Between Tribesman and al Houthi Gunmen in Ibb,” Barakish, August 4, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=54075
[6] “Breaking: Oil Pipeline Explosion in al Damashqa, Ma’rib,” Barakish, August 3, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=54060
[7] “Popular Committee in Lawder Announces Capture of Suicide Bomber,” Barakish, August 3, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=54058
[8] “President Hadi Visits Saudi Arabia,” Saba News, August 3, 2013. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news319770.htm
[9] “Eight Children, Half Killed, Fall Victim to Vendetta in Dhamar,” Mareb Press, August 4, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=58476
[10] “Expansion of Protests Demanding Bonus,” Mareb Press, August 4, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=58486
[11] “Zakat Collection Causes Death of al Houthi Leader,” Mareb Press, August 5, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=58515
[12] “Soldier Killed Under Unclear Circumstances in Ma’rib,” Mareb Press, August 2, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=58440
[13] Ikechukwu Nnochiri Abuja, “FG initiates extradition process against alleged Al-Qaeda kingpin,” Vanguard, August 3, 2013. Available: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/08/fg-initiates-extradition-process-against-alleged-al-qaeda-kingpin/
[14] Abdi Sheikh, “Islamist militants attack Somali capital, plan more before Ramadan ends,” Reuters, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/04/us-somalia-conflict-idUSBRE9730A820130804
“Wave of attacks leave 10 wounded in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, August 5, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/08/05/wave-of-attacks-leave-10-wounded-in-mogadishu/
[15] Cabdale Muumin, “Heavy security alert in Mogadishu after bomb explosions last night,” Dalsan Radio, August 5, 2013. Available: http://dalsanradio.com/articles/698/Heavy-security-alert-in-Mogadishu-after-bomb-explosions-last-night
[16] “Infighting continues to plague al Shabaab militants over leadership wrangles,” Radio Garowe, August 4, 2013. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/august-5-2013-morning-headlines/
[17] “10 people wounded in Al-Shabaab raid,” Bar Kulan, August 5, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/08/05/10-people-wounded-in-al-shabaab-raid/
[18] “Summit of AMISOM Troops Contributing Countries in Kampala, Uganda,” AMISOM, August 4, 2013. Available: http://amisom-au.org/2013/08/summit-of-amisom-troops-contributing-countries-in-kampala-uganda/
[19] Raymond Baguma, “Kutesa wants AMISOM troop numbers boosted,” New Vision, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/645720-kutesa-wants-amisom-troop-numbers-boosted.html
[20] Risdel Kasasira, “Somalia gets back control of strategic Kismayu port,” Africa Review, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.africareview.com/News/Somalia-regains-control-of-strategic-Kismayu-port/-/979180/1937164/-/ptocvm/-/index.html
[21] Abdulkarim Ssengendo, “Somalia gets military police,” New Vision, August 4, 2013. Available: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/645726-somalia-gets-military-police-force.html
[22] “Somali Journalist Survives Assassination Attempt,” Bar Kulan, August 5, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/08/05/somali-journalist-survives-assassination-attempt/
[23] “Truck driver killed outside AMISOM compound in Mogadishu,” Sabahi, August 4, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/newsbriefs/2013/08/04/newsbrief-04
[24] “MYC Responds to UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group Report,” SITE Intel Group, August 2, 2013. Available: SITE Intel Group