Gulf of Aden Security Review - June 26, 2012

Yemen: Death toll from landmines rises in Abyan governorate; al Qaeda-linked militants train Norwegian man to carry out terrorist attack on the West; Ansar al Sharia militants flee to Oman border from Southern strongholds

Horn of Africa: TFG, AMISOM seize town north of Mogadishu; tribal clashes kill seven people in northern Somalia; IED injures one in Mogadishu; Ahlu Sunna officials meet in Gedo to discuss ways to bolster security in the region; TFG President Sheikh Ahmed to attend global anti-piracy conference in Dubai; tribe vows to fight alongside al Shabaab in central Somalia, al Shabaab claims attacks in five communiqués

Yemen Security Brief

  • The death toll from landmines left behind by Ansar al Sharia has increased to 73 deaths in Abyan governorate. According to Colonel Saeed Ali Mushal, 23 of the 73 were military personnel, including two engineer team officers. Deputy Chief of the Engineering Division in the Southern Military Area, Colonel al Kadri Mohammed al  Tali, reported that six mines detection teams, a demining team, and two teams to disarm the unexploded shells and missiles, in addition to four military engineering teams, have been sent to Abyan dismantle the explosives.[1]
  • According to European security agencies, al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen trained a Norwegian convert to Islam to carry out attacks against the West. Officials from the three security agencies believe this man completed training and awaits instructions for his target, calling him “operational.” His background makes him an ideal candidate for al Qaeda because he can travel in Europe without a visa, and has no criminal record.[2]
  • Ansar al Sharia militants reportedly fled to the border of Oman. Foreign Ministry Secretary General Badr bin Hamad al Busaidi said that security forces are attempting to track down the militants.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A Somali military official said that hundreds of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops seized control of Bal’ad town, north of Mogadishu in Middle Shabelle region, from al Shabaab militants. TFG Col. Abdullahi Ali Anod added that the troops faced little resistance when they moved into the town.[4]
  • A local resident reported that tribal clashes killed at least seven people near Buhoodle in Ayn region in northern Somalia. The reason behind the fighting is still not known; however, the city of Buhoodle is located in a disputed area.[5]
  • Witnesses reported that an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Mogadishu’s Waberi district on June 25. One boy was reportedly injured in the attack.[6]
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a officials met in Beled Hawo to discuss ways to improve security in Gedo region on June 25. Ahlu Sunna spokesman in Gedo region Mohammed Hussein al Qadi said that the officials also discussed strategies to capture more areas under al Shabaab control.[7]
  • TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said that he would attend the two-day global anti-piracy conference in Dubai beginning on June 27. Foreign ministers and senior government officials from 50 different countries will reportedly participate in the conference.[8]
  • Al Kata’ib Media Foundation, al Shabaab’s media wing, issued five communiqués on jihadist forums on June 22. On June 19, al Shabaab reported that the Hobir tribe, based in central Somalia, pledged allegiance to al Shabaab and vowed to fight alongside the militants. Additionally, al Shabaab claimed several attacks against Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Somali targets and reported on community service activities between June 17 and 20. Most notably, al Shabaab claimed six separate ambushes on AMISOM and TFG troops traveling between Mogadishu and Afgoi.[9]    

[1] “Landmines Kill 73 People in Abyan,” Yemen Post, June 25, 2012. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=5587&MainCat=3
“Land Mines Left by Al-Qaida As Militants Fled Southern Strongholds Killed 73 This Week,” Associated Press, June 26, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/yemen-land-mines-left-by-al-qaida-as-militants-fled-southern-strongholds-killed-73-this-week/2012/06/26/gJQAE9Im3V_story.html
[2] Karl Ritter, “Al-Qaida Trains Norwegian to Attacks,” Associated Press, June 25, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hZCrdGVfxkc5BkN9MJRjLo3rrGcg?docId=d6679bb2854141d6b030c48eb298eb7e
[3] “Qaeda Members Fled U.S. Backed Strike to Oman,” Reuters, June 26, 2012. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/26/us-oman-qaeda-idUSBRE85P08J20120626
[4] “Pro-govt Forces Push Militants out of Somali Town,” AP, June 26, 2012. Available:  http://www.bradenton.com/2012/06/26/4092191/pro-govt-forces-push-militants.html
[5] “Seven Killed in Northern Somalia Tribal Group Fighting,” Shabelle Media Network, June 26, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/26/seven-killed-in-northern-somalia-tribal-group-fighting/
[6] “Roadside Bomb Targets Turkish Convoy in Mogadishu,” Somalia Report, June 25, 2012. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/june-26-2012-morning-headlines/
[7] “ASWJ Meets in Beled-Hawo to Discuss Security in Gedo,” Bar Kulan, June 25, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/06/25/aswj-meets-in-beled-hawo-to-discuss-security-in-gedo/
[8] Ramola Talwar Badam, “Somalia’s President to Join Dubai Fight against Pirates,” The National, June 26, 2012. Available: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/somalias-president-to-join-dubai-fight-against-pirates
[9] “Shabaab Announces Tribe’s Pledges, Claims Attacks,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 25, 2012. Available at SITE.