Gulf of Aden Security Review - June 12, 2012
Yemen: Yemen military recaptures Jaar and Zinjibar; interview with AQAP military spokesman features details on May 21 suicide attack, battle for Abyan; findings from May 21 suicide attack in Sana’a to be released next week
Horn of Africa: TFG, Kenyan troops clash with al Shabaab near Qoqani; al Shabaab recaptures Mahas from Ahlu Sunna and Ethiopian forces; al Shabaab arrests four people in Elbur; Somali peacemaker in Beledweyne assassinated; Kenya asks for financial assistance from U.S. ahead of assault on al Shabaab’s stronghold in Kismayo; newly trained TFG soldiers arrive to Beledweyne
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemen’s commander of the southern military zone General Salem Qatan reported that the former Ansar al Sharia strongholds of Zinjibar and Jaar in Abyan governorate have been “completely cleansed.” The Yemeni Defense Ministry said that the Yemeni military, backed by armed tribesmen, entered Zinjibar and Jaar where they clashed with Ansar al Sharia militants. At least 20 militants, four soldiers, and two civilians were killed in the attack. Twenty more Yemeni soldiers were also injured. The Defense Ministry added that between 200 and 300 Ansar al Sharia militants, including foreign fighters, fled from Jaar, Zinjibar, and Shaqra. Residents in Jaar reported that militants left behind flyers stating that Ansar al Sharia did not want to “cause any harm to Jaar and its inhabitants.” Additionally, the Yemeni Navy reportedly sunk 10 boats carrying Ansar al Sharia militants.
- In an interview with al Quds al Arabi released on June 12, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) military commander Qasim al Raymi provided details on Sana’a’s May 21 suicide attack. When asked why AQAP targeted Yemeni troops when it claims it is at war with the U.S., Raymi explained that the attack was in retaliation for the Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s campaign against militants in Abyan and demonstrates AQAP’s ability to “bring the attack to them.” He added that the battle for Abyan will continue for years.
- Yemeni Interior Minister Abdul Qadir Qahtan announced on June 11 that the findings from the investigation of the May 21 Sana’a suicide bombing will be released next week. The attack claimed by AQAP killed over 100 Yemeni soldiers.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Local residents reported that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers, backed by Kenyan troops, clashed with al Shabaab militants near Qoqani in Lower Jubba region. Reports on casualties and injuries have yet to surface.
- Al Shabaab militants recaptured the town of Mahas in Hiraan region on June 11, reported locals. TFG and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a forces withdrew before al Shabaab fighters arrived. Ahlu Sunna official Saney Mohamud Farah stated that the town fell to the militants due to the increased pressure felt from the growing presence of al Shabaab militants on the outskirts of Mahas.
- Local residents in Galgudud’s Elbur district reported that al Shabaab militants detained at least four people for having alleged links to Ahlu Sunna or the Ethiopian Army on June 12. One of the detainees is the alleged father of an al Shabaab official. Al Shabaab seized control of the city a day earlier following the withdrawal of Ahlu Sunna and Ethiopian troops.
- Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Somali peacemaker, Abdi Goobe, in Beledweyne in Hiraan region late on June 11. Somali officials in the region announced that they would carry out a search campaign for the assailants who fled the scene undetected.
- Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that Kenyan troops were preparing for a “final onslaught” on al Shabaab’s financial hub, Kismayo, on June 12. Odinga asked for financial assistance from the U.S. ahead of its planned offensive. Kenya has previously stated that it intends to capture Kismayo by August 2012.
- Newly trained TFG soldiers have reportedly arrived to Beledweyne in Hiraan region to increase security in the area. Deputy Governor of Hiraan region Adawe Elmi Nur said that the soldiers recently completed a joint TFG-Ethiopian course at Jante Kundisho camp on the city’s outskirts.