Gulf of Aden Security Review - July 31, 2012

Yemen: Overnight airstrikes kill five al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan governorate; gunmen kill eight people after storming the Yemeni Interior Ministry on July 29; Yemeni authorities identify Italian embassy guard kidnapper; Yemeni security services arrest suspected al Qaeda leader; former Saudi Guantanamo inmate who rejoined AQAP surrenders to Saudi authorities; Yemeni Defense Ministry affirms that militants surrender in Lahij governorate; Ethiopians protest at refugee camp in Lahij governorate

Horn of Africa: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet with TFG President Sheikh Ahmed in Africa tour; al Shabaab shoots and kills driver in Mandera Kenya, claims attack on Twitter; Somali elder and brother killed by unknown gunmen in Galkayo

Yemen Security Brief

  • According to a Yemeni security official, overnight airstrikes killed five al Qaeda-linked militants when they targeted their hideouts in Abyan governorate on July 30. Warplanes struck al Mahfad district, a refuge site for the militants, after an earlier Yemeni military offensive drove them from their strongholds in Zinjibar and Jaar.[1]
  • A medical source reported that eight people were killed when gunmen loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh clashed with Yemeni security forces near the Interior Ministry in Sana’a on July 31. Many civilians were reportedly injured in the fighting. Two days earlier, roughly 100 Saleh loyalists stormed the Interior Ministry demanding jobs they were promised during the Yemeni uprising in 2011.[2]
  • Yemeni authorities identified the man who kidnapped the Italian embassy guard in Sana’a on July 29 as Ali Nasser Hudaikan. The Yemeni Interior Ministry reported that Hudaikan took the victim to Ma’rib governorate and demanded to have his name removed from a state blacklist in exchange for the guard.[3]
  • Yemeni security services detained a suspected al Qaeda leader, Abdulrahman al Baihani. A high-ranking security official reported to SABA News that the man is "one of the most dangerous wanted al Qaeda elements and among the prominent leaders plotting to carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage in the capital.”[4]
  • Former Saudi Guantanamo Bay inmate Adnan al Sayegh surrendered to Saudi authorities on July 30, according to the Saudi Interior Ministry. Sayegh was transferred from Guantanamo to a Saudi Interior Ministry-run rehabilitation program in 2006, but then later rejoined al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Upon his surrender, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a press release, “The wanted individual expressed remorse for his actions and his desire to return home and give himself in to the security service.”[5]
  • The Yemeni Defense Ministry confirmed that al Qaeda-linked militants surrendered to authorities in Lahij governorate on July 30 after the local governor, Ahmed al Majidi, pressured them to do so.[6]
  • According to news agency September 26, roughly 420 Ethiopian refugees protested their poor living conditions in the Kharaz refugee camp in Lahij governorate on July 30. Yemeni authorities eventually controlled the riot, but street closures prevented UN staff and other agencies from leaving and entering the refugee camp.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Senegal, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa July 31 through August 10 to “emphasize U.S. policy commitments outlined in the Presidential Policy Directive - to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, advance peace and security as well as promote opportunity and development for all citizens” in a press statement on July 30. Nuland added that Clinton will be meeting with Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and other roadmap signatories “to underscore U.S. support for completing the political transition in Somalia by August 20th.”[8]
  • A driver was reportedly shot and killed in an attack by al Shabaab gunmen in Mandera in northeastern Kenya on July 30. The victim was driving a Land Cruiser belonging to Safaricom, a Kenyan mobile phone network, along with four other policemen and a technician. Deputy police chief for North Eastern province Philip Ndolo said that the men escaped on foot after realizing the driver was killed. After returning to the scene, the driver’s body was found and the vehicle had been stolen. A local resident added that the al Shabaab militants “took their time to repair the deflated vehicle and later robbed occupants of a lorry that was passing there of cash and petrol before driving away.” Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack through a series of posts on Twitter claiming that three Kenyans were killed, including a senior officer, and many more were injured.[9]
  • Police chief in Puntland region Jamaa Mohamed Ahmed said that four unknown gunmen killed elder Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan and his brother Osman Mohamed Hassan in Galkayo in Mudug region on July 30. A third person was also injured by gunfire. Abdullahi and Osman were attacked as they left a mosque after completing their evening prayers.[10]    

[1] “Yemen Airstrikes Kill at least Five Militants,” AP, July 31, 2012. Available: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/jul/31/ml-yemen/
[2] “Eight Killed in Clashes near Yemen Interior Ministry,” Reuters, July 31, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/31/us-yemen-violence-ministry-idUSBRE86U0MJ20120731
[3] “Yemen Identified Kidnapper, Place of Italian Diplomat,” Yemen Post, July 31, 2012. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=5794&MainCat=3
[6] “Al-Qaeda Militants Surrender Themselves to Authorities,” Yemen Post, July 30, 2012. Available: http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=5793&MainCat=3
[7] “420 Ethiopians Rioting in the Camp Streets,” September 26, July 30, 2012. Available: http://26sep.net/news_details.php?lng=arabic&sid=83701
“420 Ethiopian Refugees Riot at Yemen Refugee Camp,” Yemen Post, July 30, 2012. Available: http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=5792&MainCat=3
[8] “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Travel to Africa,” State Department, July 30, 2012. Available: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/07/195785.htm
[9] “Suspected Al-Shabaab Militants Kill Safaricom Driver,” Shabelle Media Network, July 30, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/07/30/suspected-al-shabaab-militants-kill-safaricom-driver%E2%80%8E/
“Shabaab Claims Killing Three in Ambush in Kenya,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 30, 2012. Available at SITE.
[10] “An Elder, Brother in Northern Galkayo, Mudug Region,” Bar Kulan, July 31, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/07/31/an-elder-brother-killed-in-northern-galkayo-mudug-region/