Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 23, 2013

Yemen: Jihadist confirms Said al Shihri’s death via Twitter; security forces clash with gunmen in Taiz; two airstrikes reported in northern al Jawf governorate; Houthis detain teachers in Sa’ada governorate; assassination attempt on Chief of Rescue Police in al Bayda city; Houthis and Salafis exchange fire in the town of Ma’bar, Dhamar governorate; tribal gunmen from Shabwah arrive in Taiz to demand release of train cars; commander of Anad Axis escapes assassination; UK to host Friends of Yemen conference on March 7

Horn of Africa: Eritrean soldiers stage coup at the Ministry of Information in Asmara, Eritrea; al Shabaab is forcing elders in Galgudud region to recruit young fighters; al Shabaab detains elders in the Galgudud region; Somali military court sentences one person to death, another three to prison; delegation to form a Jubbaland state will meet in Kismayo; European Union fighting contingent to stay in Somalia for two more years; Somali prime minister meets with United Nations ambassador in Mogadishu; Ras Kamboni brigade imposes silence on journalists in Kismayo

Yemen Security Brief

  • Prominent jihadist Abdullah bin Muhammad confirmed reports that Said al Shihri, the deputy leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), had been killed in a post on January 22 to his Twitter account. Officials at the Yemeni Defense Ministry told CNN that they could not confirm Shihri’s death.[1]
  • Gunmen clashed with security forces in Taiz’s Rawdah neighborhood on January 23, resulting in at least two gunmen killed and ten gunmen and soldiers wounded. Various sources report that the gunmen were either tribal members loyal to local leader Hamoud Mikhlafi, or escaped prisoners from Taiz’s central prison.[2]
  • Two airstrikes were reported on January 22 in the Hajla area of the Khab and Shaa’af al Waqa’a districts of north al Jawf governorate, along the Yemeni-Saudi border. Six unidentified suspected AQAP militants were reported killed.[3]
  • Houthi insurgents detained between eight and nineteen teachers in Sa’ada governorate between January 20 and 21.[4]
  • The chief of rescue police in al Bayda governorate, Colonel Khalid al Dhala’ai narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on January 23 when his car was blown up in al Bayda city’s qat market, killing his driver and wounding three others, including his son. It is suspected that AQAP is behind the assassination attempt.[5]
  • Armed clashes erupted between Houthis and Salafis in the town of Ma’bar in Dhamar governorate after the killing of a gunman named Mohammad Zaid on January 22.[6]
  • Tribal gunmen from Shabwah governorate arrived in Taiz on January 23 to demand the release of a number of train cars being held in al Hawban and al Rahida districts on January 22. It is reported that a man called Tawfiq Abdulrahim had seized a number of train cars carrying oil and natural gas in order to secure the release of his own train cars, being held in Ma’rib province.[7]
  • Commander of Anad Axis in Lahij Staff Major General Mahmoud al Subaihi was attacked by a group of armed men while traveling to Anad base in an area between Jisr al Husaini and al Zaida in Lahij governorate on January 22. Subaihi’s guards arrested five of the attackers.[8]
  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on January 22 that the United Kingdom will host the Friends of Yemen conference on March 7.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Two hundred soldiers from the Eritrean Army stormed the Ministry of Information in Asmara, Eritrea on January 21. The soldiers forced broadcasters from the state-run news shows to read a statement calling for the Eritrean government to free political prisoners. Also in the statement, the soldiers announced that they were going to change the constitution. The government regained control of the ministry but there are conflicting reports about how the coup ended. Some reports say the mutinying soldiers were most likely imprisoned after government troops surrounded the ministry, other reports say the soldiers left the building and drove back to their base.[10]
  • Al Shabaab has reportedly been forcing elders in districts in Galgudud region to recruit 200 to 300 new young fighters to join al Shabaab’s cause, as well as provide food and money. Al Shabaab militants gave the elders three days to provide the men and materials.[11]
  • Al Shabaab arrested elders in Elbur district, Galgudud region on January 23 after they refused al Shabaab’s demand to provide the terrorist organization with 300 young fighters and 100 million Somali shillings. The number of detained elders is not known.[12]
  • A Somali military court sentenced one soldier to death on a murder charge and sentenced three other soldiers to prison for five to 20 years in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region on January 22.[13]
  • The interim leader of Kismayo and leader of the Ras Kamboni brigade, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam, also known as Ahmed Madobe, announced that delegates from the Jubba region are gathering in Kismayo to try and form a new Jubbaland state government.[14]
  • The European Union fighting contingent in Somalia will stay there for another two years according to the Council of the European Union. The contingent is under Irish command and is currently stationed in Uganda but is preparing to move into Mogadishu in the coming weeks.[15]
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon met with United Nations Ambassador to Somalia Augustine P. Mahiga in Mogadishu on January 22. The two men talked about how to stop the widespread rape of Somali women and other crimes against humanity occurring in the country.[16]
  • The spokesman for the Ras Kamboni brigade's forces, Abdinasir Serar, has warned journalists in Kismayo not to report any news without consent from the brigade, according to reports on January 23.[17]     

[1] “AQAP Deputy Leader Reported Slain,” SITE Intel Group, January 22, 2013. Available at SITE.
Hakim Almasmari, ”Report: Top al Qaeda leader killed,” CNN, January 23, 2013. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/22/world/meast/yemen-terror-leader/
[2] “Three Dead and At Least Ten Wounded in Clashes in Rawdah Neighborhood in Taiz,” News Yemen, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Two Dead and Ten Wounded in Clashes Between Police and ‘Wanted Individuals’ in Taiz,” Masdar Online, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Six Killed in Two Drone Strikes on the Yemeni-Saudi Border,” Mareb Press, January 22, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=51357&lng=arabic
[4] “Wifaq Demands Their Release: Mareb Press Releases Their Names .. the Houthis Detain 19 People Over Two Days,” Mareb Press, January 22, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=51359&lng=arabic+
“Houthis Detain 8 Teachers and the Teachers Union in Sa’ada Condemns it and Considers it a Blatant Crime and Violation of the Teachers’ Rights – Names,” News Yemen, January 22, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://newsyemen.net/subject.asp?sub_no=News/2013/221/9581.asp&sub_ano=1&sub_gno=
[5] “Rescue Police Chief Escapes from Assassination Attempt in Bayda, and His Driver is Killed,” News Yemen, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://newsyemen.net/subject.asp?sub_no=News/2013/231/9588.asp&sub_ano=1&sub_gno=
[6] “Clashes Between Houthi Gunmen and Salafists in Dhamar After the Death of an Individual,” al Masdar Online, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available from: http://almasdaronline.com/article/40766
[7] “Tribal Gunmen from Shabwah in 30 Cars Storm Taiz,” Barakish Net, January 22, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=12&id=43451
[8] “Commander of the Anad Axis survives assassination attempt,” Barakish Net, January 22, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43455
[9] “Britain to host 'Friends of Yemen' summit in March,” AFP, January 22, 2013. Available:  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2013/Jan-22/203363-britain-to-host-friends-of-yemen-summit-in-march.ashx#axzz2IoXOGtpL
[10] “Coup Attempt by Rebel Soldiers is Said to fail in Eritrea,” NYTimes, January 21, 2013. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/world/africa/coup-attempt-fails-in-eritrea.html?_r=0
“Dissident Eritrean Troops Seize Ministry,” Reuters, January 21, 2013. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/21/us-eritrea-siege-idUSBRE90K0J320130121
“Soldiers Temporarily Seize Eritrean Information Ministry,” Al Shahid, January 22, 2013. Available: http://english.alshahid.net/archives/34672
[11] “Al Shabaab Compels Elders to Conscript Young Potential Fighters,” Bar Kulan, January 23, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/23/al-shabaab-compels-elders-to-conscript-young-potential-fighters/
“Al Shabaab Accused of Detaining Elders,” Bar Kulan, January 23, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/23/al-shabaab-accused-of-detaining-elders/
[12] “Al Shabaab Accused of Detaining Elders,” Bar Kulan, January 23, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/23/al-shabaab-accused-of-detaining-elders/
[13] “Somali Army Court Sentences Soldier to Death, Another to 20 Years in Jail,” Jowhar Online, January 22, 2013. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/january-23-2013-morning-headlines/
[14] “Somalia: Jubaland Formation Process Underway Says Kismayo Leader,” Garowe, January 22, 2013. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Jubaland_formation_process_underway_says_Kismayo_leader.shtml
[15] “Irish-led EU Military to Stay in Somalia,” Raxanreeb, January 23, 2013. Available: http://www.raxanreeb.com/2013/01/irish-led-eu-military-to-stay-in-somalia/
[16] “UN and the Somali Government Talks About Issues Including Women and Rape Effects,” Kulmiye News, January 22, 2013. Available: http://www.kulmiyenews.com/?nid=11844
[17] “Militia group gags Somali journalists in Kismayo,” Shabelle Media Network, January 23, 2013. Available: http://shabelle.net/somali-militia-group-gags-somali-journalists-in-kismayo/