Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 13, 2011

Yemen: Four soldiers killed in clashes with southern separatists in Lahij governorate; Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh telephones Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani to discuss al Houthi insurgency; access to diplomatic offices limited to those with security clearances; former AQAP operative reveals 2009 assassination attempt aimed to derail Saudi terrorist rehabilitation program; AQAP’s Arabic-language magazine profiles April 2010 suicide bomber Uthman al Salwi

Horn of Africa: Roadside bomb injures three, including two TFG soldiers in Mogadishu; tensions rise as armed clans prepare to resist al Shabaab ban on charcoal production in Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Fighting between southern separatists and soldiers in al Malah in Lahij governorate killed four Yemeni soldiers and wounded ten others. Gunfire erupted in the early morning, and continued until around noon. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the army bombardment falling on the surrounding mountains where the militants are hiding, although some shells hit residences in nearby villages.[1]
  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh telephoned Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani to discuss the continued al Houthi insurgency in the Sa’ada governorate. President Saleh praised Qatar’s efforts to mediate the conflict, noting that while Yemen has adhered to the ceasefire agreement the al Houthi rebels have continued their campaign of violence, kidnapping and robbery. President Saleh cautioned that if the al Houthi rebellion continued, the Yemeni government would not be responsible for the consequences.[2]
  • New regulations limit access to diplomatic offices to only those who have received security clearance. The measure followed a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with opposition leaders from the Joint Meeting Parties, although the Yemeni government insisted the change was strictly for security reasons.[3]
  • Former AQAP militant and former Guantanamo detainee (#188) Jabir Jubran al Fayfi elaborated on the August 2009 attempted assassination of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, head of Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror program, revealing that AQAP hoped that the assassination would undermine the Saudi strategy of trying to rehabilitate terrorists who surrendered. The would-be assassin, Abdullah Asiri, had expressed interest in the program to secure an audience with the Prince.[4]
  • The 14th issue of AQAP’s Arabic-language magazine, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics), profiled Uthman al Salwi, a Yemeni suicide bomber who attempted to assassinate the British ambassador to Yemen in April 2010. Although Uthman initially planned to travel to Iraq, he was arrested and imprisoned in Yemen for a year and a half following which he emerged “as if he had graduated from a university; he learned all what a mujahid needs in his jihad.” Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Sana’a where he detonated an explosive device near the British embassy, killing himself but failing to harm the ambassador.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A roadside bomb injured three people, including two Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers in Mogadishu. Witnesses report that after the explosion soldiers opened fire indiscriminately before temporarily detaining everyone in the area.[6]
  • Al Shabaab forbade businessmen in Bu’aale, the capital of the Lower Jubba region, to continue cutting and burning wood to produce charcoal for sale. Tensions in the region have risen as armed clan militias loyal to the charcoal traders prepare for potential clashes.[7]


[1] “Fierce Clashes Between the Army and the Separatists South of Yemen,” Yemen Observer, January 12, 2011. Available: http://www.yobserver.com/local-news/10020586.html
[2] “Saleh, al Thani talk on efforts to settle Sa’ada,” Saba News, January 12, 2011. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news233120.htm
[3] Mohammed al Qadhi, “Yemen Restricts Access to Diplomatic Offices,” The National, January 13, 2011. Available: http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/yemen-restricts-access-to-diplomatic-offices
[4] MD al Sulami, “Attempt on Prince Aimed at Deterring Repenters,” Arab News, January 13, 2011. Available: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article233654.ece
[5] “Biography of a Suicide Bomber – ‘Echo of the Epics,’ Issue 14,” SITE Intel Group, January 11, 2011. Available at SITE.
[6] “Two Government Soldiers Wounded in Mogadishu Roadside Bomb Attack,” Shabelle Media Network, January 12, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=1928
[7] “Tense Situation Between al Shabaab, Gunmen in Southern Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, January 13, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=1927