Gulf of Aden Security Review - June 18, 2012

Yemen: Suicide attack kills commander of the southern military zone in Aden; Yemeni troops enter Azzan; colonel killed in bomb blast in Hadramawt; posthumous video of a Jordanian jihadist killed in Yemen released; Yemeni journalist interviews Ansar al Sharia’s leader in Abyan governorate in Zinjibar

Horn of Africa: Suicide bomber detonates car filled with explosives in Afgoi, car explodes in Mogadishu market targeting TFG soldiers; roadside bomb kills one civilian in Mogadishu; TFG troops clash with al Shabaab in Gedo region; 10 arrested and charged in connection with al Shabaab in Mogadishu; AMISOM and TFG forces coordinate to capture an al Shabaab military base in Gedo region; al Shabaab threatens local traders in Galgudud region; al Shabaab expresses fear over Middle Shabelle region falling to Somali government; Puntland forces recapture the village of Tukaraq; Ahlu Sunna says its withdrawal from central Somali towns was military tactic

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemen’s Defense Ministry reported that Yemen’s commander of the southern military zone Maj. Gen. Salem Ali Qatan was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near Qatan’s vehicle in Aden. Two members of Qatan’s security detail were also killed and five passers-by were wounded in the attack. The Defense Ministry added that the bomber was a Somali national. An alleged al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call with Xinhua.[1]
  • Yemen’s Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed said that Yemeni troops have entered Azzan in Shabwah governorate. Residents reported that militants fled the city in trucks laden with weapons. Yemeni military officials reported that airstrikes between al Hawta and Azzan in Shabwah governorate killed six al Qaeda-linked militants on June 17. A day earlier, Yemeni troops clashed with al Qaeda-linked militants between Hassan Valley, located northeast of Zinjibar in Abyan governorate, and Azzan in Shabwah governorate. Twenty-one militants and one soldier were killed and six other soldiers were wounded in the clashes.[2]
  • A Yemeni security official said that a colonel who led troops in Rawkab in Hadramawt governorate was killed in a bombing. The official reported that two other soldiers were wounded in the attack.[3]
  • A jihadist posted a posthumous video on jihadist forums on June 14 featuring Abdul Rahman al Urduni, also known as Thabit al Muhajir, giving his will. A day earlier, another jihadist posted that Urduni, a Jordanian national, was killed while fighting in Yemen. In the will, Urduni incites Muslims to unite and join the jihad, and asks his mother to pray for him and other fighters.[4]
  • Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s media wing, released a video of an interview between Ansar al Sharia’s leader in Abyan governorate Jalal al Marqishi and Yemeni journalist Abdul Razzaq al Jamal on jihadist forums on June 15. Before the interview starts, Madad purports to show footage of the aftermath of the Yemeni military’s assault on and recapture of Zinjibar on June 12. During the interview, Marqishi states that America plays a direct military role on the ground in Yemen, which legitimizes jihad. Marqishi also threatens to carry out attacks throughout Yemen, citing Aden and Sana’a specifically, if the Yemeni military continues its campaign against Abyan: “So, we say that in this stage, if this agent government continues with those who stand behind it to send campaigns to us and annihilate the citizens, then we will send vehicles that weigh tons. We also say that if this situation continues as such, we have a bundle of attacks, and these attacks might change the political map in Yemen completely. We hope that we don’t reach that stage.”[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Three car bombs detonated between June 16 and 18 in Afgoi and Mogadishu. Governor of Lower Shabelle region Abdikadir Nur Sidi reported that an explosive filled car parked at an army base in Bar Ismail detonated in Afgoi region on June 17. At least one soldier was wounded in the attack. The second car bomb detonated in a market in Mogadishu’s Yaqshid district, targeting Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces driving by the area. At least three civilians were injured in the blast. The third explosive was a roadside bomb that killed a nearby civilian and wounded two young children. The blast targeted a car belonging to a well known Somali elder as it was driving through Hamar Bile neighborhood in Mogadishu’s Whardhigley district. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abu Mus’ab emphasized the level of success these attacks have had for the organization.[6]
  • Residents reported that TFG troops clashed with al Shabaab militants after the militants ambushed a TFG convoy in Elwaq in Gedo region on June 16. Both sides reportedly suffered several casualties.[7]
  • The District Commissioner in Heliwa district in Mogadishu, Omar Abdulle Ja’fan, said that 10 people were arrested during search operations conducted by the TFG military and security forces for having alleged links to al Shabaab.[8]
  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces alongside TFG troops captured al Shabaab military bases in Gedo region on June 17. TFG military spokesman, Warfa Sheikh Adan, discussed the advantages of uniting local forces against al Shabaab.[9]
  • Al Shabaab militants ordered local traders to contribute material support to its war against the allied forces and threatened to punish those who fail to support al Shabaab in El Garas, El Lahelay and El Qohle settlements in Galgudud region. The order came four days after the al Shabaab’s initial request of $8,000 from the traders on June 14.[10]
  • For the first time, al Shabaab voiced concern over Middle Shabelle region falling into TFG control, as AMISOM closes in on the region. The al Shabaab leader in the region, Yusuf Isse, encouraged locals to work with the militant group at a mosque in Jowhar on June 17.[11]
  • Puntland government forces retook the village of Tukaraq near Laas Caanood, the regional capital of the disputed region of Sool after clashes with Somaliland troops.[12]
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) explained that its withdrawal from Elbur and Mahas on June 10 and 11 respectively was a purely tactical military decision.[13]     
 
[1] “Yemen Officials: Suicide Bomber Kills Army General Leading Fight against al-Qaida in South,” AP, June 18, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/yemen-officials-suicide-bomber-kills-army-general-leading-the-fight-against-al-qaida-in-south/2012/06/18/gJQA51GekV_story.html
“Southern Military Commander Salem Qatan Martyred,” 26 September Net, June 18, 2012. Available: http://www.26sep.net/news_details.php?sid=82696
“Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility for Killing Commander of Yemen’s Southern Military Region,” Xinhua, June 18, 2012. Available: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-06/18/c_131660887.htm
[2] “Yemen Officials: Suicide Bomber Kills Army General Leading Fight against al-Qaida in South,” AP, June 18, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/yemen-officials-suicide-bomber-kills-army-general-leading-the-fight-against-al-qaida-in-south/2012/06/18/gJQA51GekV_story.html
Ahmed al Haj, “Yemen: 21 Militants killed in Fighting in South,” AP, June 16, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jpZAsrJPfXU_HxY0lvfcP6Py3wag?docId=71f277574b4c4b40b11231984fb22a0c
[3] “Yemen Says Islamists Retreat from Southern Town,” Reuters, June 17, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/17/us-yemen-violence-idUSBRE85G0A420120617
[4] “Jordanian Fighter Killed in Yemen Gives Will in Posthumous Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 15, 2012. Available at SITE.
[5] “Madad Video of Yemeni Journalist’s Interview with AQAP’s Abyan Official,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 15, 2012. Available at SITE.
[6] “Suicide Car Bomb Hits At Army Base in Afgoye Town, Outside Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, June 16, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/16/suicide-car-bomb-hits-at-army-base-in-afgoye-town-outside-mogadishu/
“Car Bomb in Busy Market, Injures 3,” Garowe Online, June 16, 2012. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Car_bomb_in_busy_market_injures_3.shtml
“Roadside Bomb in Mogadishu Kills One, Wounds Three,” Shabelle Media Network, June 18, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/18/roadside-bomb-in-mogadishu-kills-onewounds-three/
[7] “Fierce Fighting between Gov’t, Militants Flare up in South-Western Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, June 16, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/16/fierce-fighting-between-govt-militants-flare-up-in-south-western-somalia/
[8] “Security Forces Detain 10 Suspected al Shabaab Members in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, June 17, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/17/security-forces-detain-10-suspected-al-shabab-members-in-mogadishu/
[9] “TFG Forces Take Control Parts of Gedo Region in Southern Somalia,” SONNA, June 16, 2012. Available: http://sonnanews.net/en/read.php?title=tfg-forces-take-control-parts-of-gedo-region-in-southern-somalia&id=2098
[10] “Al Shabaab Issues New Orders Compelling Locals in Galgadud Region,” June 18, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/06/18/al-shabaab-issues-new-orders-compelling-locals-in-galgadud-region
[11] “Al Shabaab Cries Foul As Allied Forces Close in Bal’ad Town,” Bar Kulan, June 18, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/06/18/al-shabaab-cries-foul-as-allied-forces-close-in-bal%E2%80%99ad-town/
[12] “Puntland Forces Clash with Somaliland Troops in Sool Region,” Horseed Media, June 17, 2012. Available: http://horseedmedia.net/2012/06/17/somalia-puntland-forces-clash-with-somaliland-troops-in-sool-region/
[13] “ASWJ: Our Withdrawal from Some Somali Towns Was ‘A Military Tactics’,” Shabelle Media Network, June 16, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/16/aswj-our-withdrawal-from-some-somali-towns-was-a-military-tactics/