Gulf of Aden Security Review - January 31, 2012

Yemen: U.S. airstrikes target al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan; Yemeni interior minister escapes assassination attempt; Yemeni troops and al Qaeda-linked militants clash outside of Rada’a; tribesmen kidnap aid workers in Mahwit

Horn of Africa: Suicide bomber targets former warlord in central Somalia; Ethiopian troops enter Gedo region; al Shabaab bans the Red Cross from operations; al Shabaab claims credit for attacks; Iranian foreign minister says country prepared to help resolve Somalia’s issues

Yemen Security Brief

  • Suspected U.S. airstrikes killed up to 15 al Qaeda militants in Abyan governorate overnight. Local sources confirmed the deaths of at least four militants and an al Qaeda spokesman said that only three militants had been killed. The airstrikes reportedly targeted a local al Qaeda meeting in a school outside of Lawder and an al Qaeda control post. Additional reports indicate that an airstrike might have hit two vehicles just east of Lawder. Abdul Munim al Fathani, connected to the USS Cole attack, was reported killed in the strike, along with Khadri Em-Soudah and Ahmed Mu’eran Abu Ali, an al Qaeda leader in Shabwah governorate.[1]
  • Yemeni Minister of Information Ali Ahmed al Amrani escaped an assassination attempt in Sana’a. Amrani, a member of the ruling General People’s Congress party, was leaving a cabinet meeting when gunmen fired shots at his car.[2]
  • Yemeni troops and al Qaeda-linked militants clashed outside of Rada’a. Five militants and five soldiers were killed, according to tribal sources. Five other soldiers were injured. Tareq al Dhahab, who seized control of Rada’a on January 14, was reportedly the target of the fighting. He escaped unharmed.[3]
  • Armed tribesmen in Mahwit governorate kidnapped six aid workers. The nationalities of the aid workers are reportedly: two Yemenis, a German, an Iraqi, a Palestinian, and a Colombian.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A suicide bomber targeted Colonel Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdid, a former Somali warlord and government police commander, in Mudug region. The attacked killed two guards in front of his residence in Galkayo.[5]
  • Ethiopian troops entered Gedo region and are reportedly destined for Bay region. The troops entered through Dolow and were sighted in Luq in Gedo. Ethiopia already has an estimated 1,500 troops in Beledweyne in Hiraan region in central Somalia. A senior al Shabaab commander Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Yusuf confirmed the Ethiopian troop presence in Gedo region and warned that “mujahideen fighters are ready to defend their soil from the invading enemy.”[6]
  • Al Shabaab’s Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies (OSAFA) released a statement banning the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from operations in Somalia. OSAFA’s statement alleged that 70 percent of the food aid provided by ICRC was “unfit for human consumption.”[7]
  • Al Shabaab released three communiqués on January 30 claiming credit for five attacks in Beledweyne in Hiraan region and in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab claimed to have killed four Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers with a roadside bomb at Bar Obih junction near Bakara Market in Hodan neighborhood in Mogadishu. The group also claimed that it attacked a police station in Medina, the house of a parliamentarian, and the house of a senior airport employee with hand grenades in Mogadishu. Further, al Shabaab claimed credit for destroying an Ethiopian military truck in Beledweyne.[8]
  • Garowe Online reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran would be willing to host meetings to resolve current issues in Somalia. Salehi made the remarks at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.[9]


[1] “U.S. Airstrike on al Qaida Convoy Kills 15 Militants in Yemen,” Xinhua, January 31, 2012. Available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-01/31/c_131383781.htm
“Drone Strike on al-Qaeda ‘Kills 13’ in Southern Yemen,” BBC, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16806006
Mohammed Mokhashaf, “Update 3-At Least 12 Militants Killed in Yemen Air Strike,” Reuters, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/yemen-qaeda-idUSL5E8CV07520120131
Fawaz al Haidari, “Air Raids on Qaeda Bases in Yemen Kill 15,” AFP, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gjrXJUnFG7q4OqCARuXDYelnw31w?docId=CNG.7e27b2ffa00fe0567ea4433ffb1c7a93.141
Ahmed al Haj, “US Airstrikes Kill 4 al-Qaida Militants in Yemen,” AP, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jle5d12fPTF3OYlCRdEEjWGHYlew?docId=7697f372751f41cb9ed389e2d960dc7f
[2] “Yemen Minister Escapes Assassination Bid: Govt Source,” AFP, January 31, 2012. Available: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/33349/World/Region/Yemen-minister-escapes-assassination-bid-Govt-sour.aspx
[3] Mohammed Mokhashaf, “Update 3-At Least 12 Militants Killed in Yemen Air Strike,” Reuters, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/yemen-qaeda-idUSL5E8CV07520120131
[4] “6 Aid Workers Kidnapped in Yemen,” CNN, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/31/world/meast/yemen-aid-workers/index.html
[5] Abdi Sheikh, “Suicide Bomber Kills Two in Somalia’s Galmudug Region,” Reuters, January 31, 2012. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E8CV2PI20120131
“Somalia: 1 Dead After Warlord Assassination Try,” AP, January 31, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jfuBIaF5QPoaTmV_e8EyWuUY91Fg?docId=47ff1f9c756844f1bd232c91f5c41393
[6] “Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Enter Gedo Region,” Garowe Online, January 30, 2012. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Ethiopian_troops_enter_Gedo_region.shtml
“Ethiopian Soldiers and Tanks Bolster Force in Somalia,” AFP, January 30, 2012. Available: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/01/30/191457.html
[7] “Shabaab Stops ICRC Operations in Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 30, 2012. Available at SITE.
[8] “Shabaab Claims Multiple Attacks in Beledweyne, Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 30, 2012. Available at SITE.
[9] “Somalia:Iranian Minister Willing to Hold Somalia Conference,” Garowe Online, January 30, 2012. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Xildhibaanadii_sheegay_inay_xilka_ka_qaadeen_Afhayeenka_Baarlamaanka.shtml