Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 29, 2013

Yemen: Yemeni Coast Guard and U.S. Navy interdicts large shipment of weapons and explosives off Yemeni coast, possibly linked to Iran; Yemeni operation against Ansar al Sharia in al Manaseh, al Bayda continues; airstrikes hit two villages in Dhamar governorate; former President Saleh says he plans to remain in Yemen for National Dialogue Conference; Political Security officer and deputy wounded in Hadramawt governorate; car set on fire in Taiz; RPGs fired at oil pumping station in Ma’rib; Brigadier General Ahmed Saleh, son of deposed president, returns to Yemen; three protesters wounded by security forces outside Mansoura Central Prison in Aden

Horn of Africa: Suicide bomber targets Villa Somalia, Mogadishu; Muslim Youth Center condemns al Shabaab Twitter account suspension; unknown gunmen shoot Red Cross ambulance at Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya; three traditional elders remain in al Shabaab custody in Elbur, Galgudud region; Somali president travels to Brussels, Belgium; EU extends training mission mandate in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Yemeni Coast Guard, in a joint raid with the U.S. Navy forces from the nearby USS Farragut, interdicted a large shipment of explosives, weapons and money on a sailboat flying multiple flags that entered Yemeni territorial waters in the Arabian Sea on January 23. The weapons captured included C4 explosives, 122mm artillery shells, surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and improvised explosive device (IED) -making materials. The ship’s crew—eight Yemeni sailors—was also detained.  American officials briefed on the seizure said that there were indications that the smuggling operation was linked to Iran.[1]
  • Ongoing Yemeni military operations against Ansar al Sharia continued into January 29 in the vicinity of al Manaseh, al Bayda governorate. Two additional brigades advanced on northern al Manaseh from Dhamar via the Hada road, while two others advanced from the Ahram area, and had taken control of Khabza, according to military sources. As a part of the operation, Yemeni forces launched a total of four airstrikes, including one on the courtyard of a health center in which thirteen captured soldiers were being held by militants in the town of al Manaseh, one in an empty area of the town, and two in the vicinity of the nearby Tha’alib mountain, where militants had damaged a number of tanks and armored vehicles, and blown up two supply trucks, pinning down an army battalion on January 28. Casualty statistics among Yemeni forces and militants are still forthcoming. A stray artillery shell killed two Somali workers.[2]
  • Airstrikes struck two villages in the Mayfa’at ‘Ans area of Dhamar governorate on January 29. Casualty statistics are unknown.[3]
  • Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave an interview to Saudi newspaper al Okaz, on January 28. He claimed that he would stay in Yemen, as leadership of the General People’s Congress (GPC) party and that his supporters have asked him to advise on the upcoming National Dialogue Conference.[4]
  • A car was set on fire on Jamal Street in Taiz on January 29, after unknown individuals threw a homemade Molotov cocktail at it.[5]
  • Unknown individuals fired three RPGs at an oil pumping station in the Kufl area in Sarwah district of Ma’rib governorate. No one was injured and no equipment was damaged.[6]
  • A Political Security Officer, Lt. Col. Fadhl Abdullah al Fadhli and a deputy in the bureau, Badr Mohammad Ja’afer, were wounded by gunmen on motorcycles in the Ghail Bawazir area of Hadramawt governorate on January 29.[7]
  • Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the commander of the Yemeni Republican Guard and son of deposed former President Saleh, returned to Yemen on January 29, after a month and a half spent abroad.[8]
  • Three people, including a journalist, were injured when security forces from inside Mansoura Central Prison in Aden fired on protesters outside the prison’s front gate on January 29.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A suicide vest attack occured in front of Villa Somalia, Mogadishu on January 29. The blast took place outside the prime minister’s house and the Ethiopian Embassy, both within Villa Somalia, a highly guarded compound that houses many government buildings. Conflicting casualty numbers are being reported. Two to six of the prime minister’s guards were killed in the attack. The bomber’s identity is unknown, but is possibly a member of al Shabaab or an ex-National Intelligence and Security Agency employee. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Both the Italian government and AMISOM have denounced the bombing.[10]
  • Kenya-based Muslim Youth Center (MYC) posted a statement to its blog on January 27 condemning the suspension of al Shabaab’s Twitter page.  MYC called the suspension an, “erroneous attempt spurred on by U.S. counter-terrorism strategies aimed at disrupting and dismantling global jihad.”[11]
  • Unknown gunmen attacked a Kenyan Red Cross Society (KRCS) ambulance near Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya on January 28. KRCS has decided to suspend its activity in the refugee complex for the immediate future. The gunmen have not been caught and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[12]
  • Three traditional elders remain captives of al Shabaab in Elbur, Galgudud. Seventeen traditional elders were arrested after refusing to give the families of two al Shabaab victims 200 camels on January 12. Fourteen of the captives were released on January 18.[13]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud traveled to Brussels, Belgium on January 29 to meet with members of the European Union.[14]
  • The European Union extended its training mission mandate in Somalia for another two years, renewing it until March 31, 2015. This mandate will cost the European Union €11.6 million and includes training Somali troops as well as giving strategic defense and political advice to the Somali government.[15]   

[1] “Yemen Seizes Sailboat Filled with Weapons, and U.S. Points to Iran,” Thom Shanker and Robert F. Worth, NY Times, January 28, 2013. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/world/middleeast/29military.html?_r=0
“Ship Bearing Illegal Arms Seized Off Yemen,” CNN, January 28, 2013. Available: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/28/ship-bearing-illegal-arms-seized-off-yemen/
“Ship Carrying Weapons Seized in Yemeni Waters,” Saba News, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news296669.htm
[2] “Airstrikes on Militant Strongholds in al Bayda,” al Masdar Online, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/41028
“Army Withdraws after Army Battalion Surrounded for Hours in “Tha’alib” Mountain and Militants Damage Equipment,” al Masdar Online, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/article/41020
“Four Brigades Enter Qifah and are Stationed Strategically after Battles with al Qaeda,” Barakish Net, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43858
[3] “US Drones Bomb Villages in Dhamar,” Al Ettejah, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://alettejah.net/news/4604/
[4] “Ali Saleh: My Memoirs are Forthcoming and I Won’t Leave Yemen,” Okaz, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.okaz.com.sa/new/Issues/20130128/PrinCon20130128568002.htm
[5] “Explosion and Car Burning in the Middle of Jamal Street in Taiz,” Barakish Net, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=12&id=43868
[6] “Ma’rib: Unknown Elements Fire Rounds at Oil Pumping Station in Sarwah,” Al Khabar Now, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://www.alkhabarnow.net/news/32696/2013/01/29/
[7] “Breaking: Assassination of a Political Security Officer in Dowa’an and Wounding of an Assistant in the al Rayyan Airport,” Barakish Net, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43871
[8] “Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh Returns to Sana’a,” Barakish Net, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=43866
[9] “Breaking: 3 Wounded When Security Forces Again Open Fire on Citizens in Front of Mansoura Prison in Aden,” Aden al Ghadh, January 29, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://adenalghad.net/news/38031/
[10] “Suicide Bomber Kills Two near Somali Presidential Palace,” Reuters, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/29/us-somalia-conflict-idUSBRE90S08E20130129
“Suicide Bomber Explodes Villa Somalia’s Front Gate,” Raxanreeb, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.raxanreeb.com/2013/01/breaking-news-suicide-bomber-explodes-villa-somalias-front-gate/
“Mogadishu Suicide Bomber an ex-NISA Staf, Says Information Minister,” Bar Kulan, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/29/mogadishu-suicide-bomber-an-ex-nisa-staff-says-information-minister/
“Two Killed in Mogadishu Blast,” Bar Kulan, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/29/two-killed-in-mogadishu-blast/
“Italy AMISOM Condemn Mogadishu Attack,” Bar Kulan, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/29/italy-amisom-condemn-mogadishu-attack/
[11] “MYC Condemns Suspension of Shabaab’s Twitter Account,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 28, 2013. Available at SITE.
[12] “Kenya Red Cross Suspends Werivces in Dadaab after Attack,” The Star, January 29, 2013. Available: http://hiiraan.com/news4/2013/Jan/27901/kenya_red_cross_suspends_services_in_dadaab_after_attack.aspx
[13] “Elbur Elders Forced to Pay Damages for al Shabaab Killings,” Sabahi Online, January 28, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/features/2013/01/28/feature-01
[14] “President Mohamud Travels to Brussels,” Bar Kulan, January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/01/29/president-mohamud-travels-to-brussels/
[15] “EU Extends Training Missing in Somalia,” January 29, 2013. Available: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/639350-eu-extends-training-mission-in-somalia.html