Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 28, 2013

Yemen: Swiss hostage held by AQAP released; protesters demonstrate in Sana’a demanding prosecution of former President Saleh; protesters demonstrate in Taiz; family of Austrian hostage Dominik Neubauer release video appealing to captors; commander of Anad Axis escapes assassination attempt; Islah party releases statement on violence in southern Yemen; Southern Movement ends civil disobedience; Irish journalist Iona Craig shot at in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab threatens Kenyan voters; grenade attack kills government official in Baidoa, Bay region; Somali troops clash with al Shabaab militants in Awdiinle, Bay region; al Shabaab fighters attack Somali and AMISOM base in Janaale, Lower Shabelle region; 4,800 trained Somali troops are stuck on the Kenyan-Somali border in Gedo region; Jubbaland conference commences in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; Somali prime minister declares Mogadishu-Baidoa Highway safe; al Shabaab holds rally in Qorioley, Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Sylvia Abrahat, a Swiss hostage kidnapped in March 2012 in al Hudaydah governorate, was released on February 27 and flown to Doha, Qatar. It was reported that the Qatari government paid a ransom of 200 million Yemeni riyals, roughly equivalent to $930 thousand U.S., in exchange for her release.[1]
  • Protesters demonstrated in Sana’a on February 28, demanding the prosecution of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[2]
  • Protesters demonstrated in Taiz on February 28, demanding a united Yemen, an end to violence in southern Yemen, and the prosecution of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[3]
  • The family of Austrian hostage Dominik Neubauer released a video on YouTube on February 27 pleading for his release.[4]
  • Major General Mahmoud al Subaihi, commander of the Anad Axis, escaped an assassination attempt on February 28 in al Kirsh, Lahij governorate, according to a source in Barakish Net. The source claimed that gunmen affiliated with the Southern Mobility Movement fired on al Subaihi’s convoy.[5]
  • The Islah Party released a statement on February 27, condemning violence attributed to the Southern Mobility Movement in southern Yemen, including attacks on various Islah headquarters, and describing the Southern Movement as forces  following former Vice President Ali Salem al Beidh.[6]
  • Representatives of the Southern Movement ended their civil disobedience campaign throughout southern Yemen starting on February 26. They attributed the decision to the desire to prevent further harm to southern citizens.[7]
  • Unidentified gunmen fired on a taxi carrying Irish freelance journalist Iona Craig in old Sana’a city on February 27. No one was harmed.[8]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab released a statement via its Twitter page on February 27 saying that voting for current leadership would only bring continued war and violence to Kenya.[9]
  • Unknown attackers threw a grenade at the home of a government official in Baidoa, Bay region on February 28. The official was killed and two of his children were injured in the blast. The attackers were able to flee the scene but police arrested several people who were near the explosion.[10]
  • Somali Army troops clashed with al Shabaab militants in Awdiinle, Bay region on February 27. Three al Shabaab fighters were killed and two were captured. Somali officials claimed victory in the battle.[11]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali and AMISOM base in Janaale, Lower Shabelle region on February 28. Four al Shabaab fighters were taken into custody after the attack.[12]
  • Kulmiye News reported that there are 4,800 Somali troops stuck at the Kenyan-Somali border near Elwaq, Gedo region. The Somali troops were trained in Kenya to fight in the Jubba regions, but have not been given orders to join the war. Instead, Kenyan troops are being sent to fight al Shabaab in the Jubba regions.[13]
  • Officials and leaders from the Gedo, Middle Jubba, and Lower Jubba regions gathered in Kismayo, Lower Jubba on February 28 to begin the Jubbaland conference. Those in attendance hope to create a new regional government for Jubbaland.[14]
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon announced the highway connecting the capital Mogadishu to the major city of Baidoa is now safe for travel after the fall of Burhakaba, Bay region.[15]
  • Al Shabaab held a rally in Qorioley, Lower Shabelle region on February 28 in order to garner financial and material support. Many of the 200 participants were reportedly forced to partake and al Shabaab asked those at the rally to donate.[16]         


[1] “A Year After Her Abduction, Swiss Hostage Walks Free,” Yemen Post, February 28, 2013. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=6623&MainCat=3
“Kidnapped Swiss Reaches Doha After Mysterious Deal Between Qatar and al Qaeda,” Barakish Net, February 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=45669
[2] “Breaking,” Mareb Press, February 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/aajel.php?id=5677
[3] “Massive March in Taiz to Denounce Violence in the South and to Demand of Saleh’s Immunity Be Dropped,” al Masdar Online, February 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42197
[4] “Austrian Hostage’s Parents Appeal to his Captors in Yemen to Release Him, and Kidnappers’ Deadline Expires Today,” al Masdar Online, February 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42181
“Austrian Kidnapped in Sana’a – Family’s Appeal,” YouTube, February 27, 2013 [German]. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=psKFKJkMNFs 
[5] “Reports that Anad Axis Commander Faced Assassination Attempt,” Barakish Net, February 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=45679
[6] “Islah Accuses ‘Armed Groups Following al Beidh’ of Attacking its Headquarters in the South,” al Masdar Online [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/42177
[7] “The Southern Movement in Yemen End Civil Disobedience,” Aden al Ghad, February 27, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://adenalghad.net/news/40931/
[8] “Escape of Irish Journalist from Assassination Attempt in Old Sana’a,” Yemen Press, Februar 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://yemen-press.com/news17608.html
[9] “Shabaab Gives Warning to Kenyan Ahead of General Elections,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 27, 2013. Available at SITE.
[10] “A Bomb Blast Which a Government Official Succumbed Occurs in Baidoa,” Kulmiye News, February 28. 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=12518
[11] “A Bomb Blast Which a Government Official Succumbed Occurs in Baidoa,” Kulmiye News, February 28. 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=12518
[12] “War on Terror over al Shabaab,” Shabelle, February 28, 2013. Available: http://shabelle.net/war-on-terror-over-alshabab/
[13] “Thousands of Troops Intended for Jubba’s Stranded at Gedo Region,” Kulmiye News, February 28, 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=12520
[14] “Jubaland Conference Kicks off in Kismayo,” Bar Kulan, February 28, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/02/28/jubaland-conference-kicks-off-in-kismayo/
[15] “PM Shirdon Declares Mogadishu-Baidoa Highway Safe,” Bar Kulan, February 28, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/02/28/pm-shirdon-declares-mogadishu-baidoa-highway-safe/
[16] “Al Shabaab Holds Rally to Seek Support from Qoroley Residents,” Bar Kulan, February 28, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/02/28/al-shabaab-holds-rally-to-seek-support-from-qoryoley-residents/