Gulf of Aden Security Review - June 8, 2012

Yemen: Yemeni military blocks Ansar al Sharia’s attempt to recapture Batis in Abyan, Popular Resistance Committee foils car bomb plot; jihadist offers analysis of May 21 Sana’a suicide bombing; Madad News Agency releases 15th installment of its “Eye on the Event” series

Horn of Africa: Kenyan troops launch airstrikes on Kismayo; AMISOM plans to take over remaining al Shabaab-controlled areas; reconciliation established between two conflicting tribes in the Mudug region; Ahlu Sunna supports the US bounty offered in exchange for al Shabaab leaders; PMPF revamps maritime involvement and positions in coastal towns

Yemen Security Brief

  • Further details have emerged regarding Ansar al Sharia’s attempt to recapture Batis, north of Jaar in Abyan governorate on June 7. The Yemeni military responded by carrying out air raids on both Batis and al Darjaj. Yemeni military officials reported that at least 20 Ansar al Sharia militants and five tribesmen were killed in clashes. Another three militants were killed when a Yemeni warplane targeted a vehicle traveling between Jaar and Zinjibar. Separately, the Popular Resistance Committee in Lawder foiled a car bomb attack on al Hazan checkpoint on June 7. Sources said that the tribesmen opened fire on car after it refused to stop at the checkpoint. The bomber and two civilians were injured by gunfire. Afterwards, the suspect was transferred to the 111th Infantry Brigade for further investigation.[1]
  • A jihadist posted his analysis of the significance of the May 21 Sana’a suicide bombing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) larger strategy on forums on May 27. He says that the bomber, Haitham Hamid Hussein Mufarih, may have been a member of the First Armored Division, which is under the command of the defected general Ali Mohsen al Ahmar: “[H]ere we realize the extent that al-Qaeda can benefit from the conflict between the two sides in the army and employ that as much as it can, after the help of Allah.” The jihadist also says that claiming that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is responsible for this attack or any militant advances is incorrect and, furthermore, “is a sign of victory for the mujahideen project.”[2]
  • Madad News Agency released the 15th episode of its “Eye on the Event” series on jihadist forums on June 5. The video shows members of Ansar al Sharia and civilians destroying tombs in al Tareyyah, al Darjaj, and Sayhan villages on the outskirts of Jaar in Abyan governorate. A man identified as Sheikh Hatim al Moqbil says, “We by the grace of Allah the Great and Almighty will destroy this dome that is dedicated to the glorification of the righteous ones, in a way that elevates them from the level of mankind to the level of lordship.”[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan troops supported by Somali forces shelled the al Shabaab-controlled city of Kismayo on June 7. Airstrikes struck several districts in and around the city. The Kenyan military hit Bulohaji, Sadeh, Lugood, and Santaro districts. No civilian causalities have been reported yet.[4]
  • General Ugadi Kiki, a commander of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces stationed between Mogadishu and Afgoi district in Lower Shabelle region, announced AMISOM's next push will be towards Bal’ad town, north of Mogadishu.[5]
  • Members of the al Shabaab administration found reconciliation between two clashing tribes while they committed attacks on AMISOM and Somali militants in the city of Harardhere in Mudug region. The reconciliation lasted for five days and was successful due to the group’s common goals for the region.[6]
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a voiced its approval of the bounty extended by the United States in return for specific al Shabaab members. Omar Sheikh Abdulkadir, chairman of consultation, described this move as the first real attempt at combating al Shabaab. Abdulkadir added that he hopes the bounty will help foster rifts within the organization.[7]
  • Puntland Maritime Police Forces (PMPF) units were reportedly deployed to the coastal towns of Eyl, Hafun, Bargal, and Hul Anod.  PMPF forces cut off pirate supply lines to hijacked ships. Additionally, two hijacked ships allegedly left the coast of Bari region as a result.[8]     

[1] “Violent Clashes between Tribes and al Qaida Who Tried to Control Batis Town,” Al Masdar Online, June 7, 2012. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/index.php?page=news&article-section=1&news_id=32894
“Yemen: 23 al-Qaeda Militants Killed in South,” AP, June 7, 2012. Available: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57449355/yemen-23-al-qaeda-militants-killed-in-south/
“Abd al Lateef: Response to Attack on Batis and al Qaeda Kills Two Women and One Child,” Al Masdar Online, June 8, 2012. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/index.php?page=news&article-section=1&news_id=32909
“20 Terrorists Killed and Several Tribesmen Martyred in Clashes in Batis,” 26 September Net, June 7, 2012. Available: http://www.26sep.net/news_details.php?sid=82434
[2] “Prominent Jihadist Analyzes Sana’a Suicide Bombing,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 7, 2012. Available at SITE.
[3] “Ansar al-Shariah Destroys Tombs in Abyan in Madad Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 7, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] “Kenya Shells Kismayo, Al Shabaab Cardons City,” Garowe Online, June 8, 2012. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Kenya_shells_Kismayo_Al_Shabaab_cordons_city.shtml
[5] “AMISOM Vows to Capture a Town From Al Shabaab,” Shabelle, June 8, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/2012/06/08/amisom-vows-to-capture-a-town-from-al-shabab/
[6] “Shabaab Reports Reconciling Tribes, Claims Attacks,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 8, 2012. Available: at SITE
[7] “Ahlu Sunna Welcomes US Bounty on Al Shabaab Leaders,” Bar-kulan, June 8, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/06/08/ahlu-sunna-welcomes-u-s-bounty-on-al-shabaab-leaders/
[8] “Puntland Maritime Police Forces Deploy in Strategic Coastal Towns,” Garowe Online, June 8, 2012. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Press_Releases_32/Somalia_Puntland_Maritime_Police_Forces_Deploy_in_Strategic_Coastal_Towns.shtml