Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 15, 2012

Yemen: Jihadist encourages Muslims to mimic AQAP attacks on America; Saleh demands 10 of his foes to leave Yemen with him; Oil Petroleum Company employees protest in demand of the resignation of their director; Iran’s Quds Force reportedly continuing to arm the al Houthi rebels

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases the name of the Villa Somalia suicide bomber, warns of future attacks; al Shabaab posts 11 communiqués on jihadist forums; Kenyan government report claims that piracy off Somali coasts has decreased by 40% since Kenya’s invasion; four civilians wounded in mortar attack on IDP camp south of Mogadishu; landmine blast goes off in Galkayo

Yemen Security Brief

  • A jihadist posted on Ansar al Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF) on March 11 encouraging Muslims to wage jihad on U.S. targets. He praises al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attacks on postal and shipping sectors and urges others to follow the same methods. He adds that even though the attacks were unsuccessful, they disrupted the U.S. economy and pointed out flaws in its security. Finally he mentions, “Remember that the enemy needs to be on-target all the time while we need to be on-target only once!”[1]
  • On March 14, former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh demanded that 10 of his foes leave Yemen for the sake of stability, including his rival General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, Islamists, and sons of Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar.[2]
  • Employees of Yemen’s Oil Petroleum Company protested for the second straight day, bringing production to a halt. The employees demand the resignation of their director Omar al Arhabi. In addition, the employees stated that they would suspend service to planes and government sectors if their demands are ignored.[3]
  • The New York Times reported that Iran, backed by the Quds Force, has continued to arm the al Houthi rebels over the past couple months. A senior American official confirmed that “Iran is using small boats to ship AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and other arms to replace older weapons used by the rebels.” Head of Central Command General James N. Mattis said, “They’re [Iran] fighting basically a shadow war every day,” in a Senate hearing last week. The report added that Iran hosted protesters from Taiz and that a Yemeni official had claimed Iran had attempted to move explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) – armor-piercing explosive devices – into Aden.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage revealed the identity of the suicide bomber who carried out the March 14 attack on Villa Somalia. The man’s name was Hassan Abdikadir, and Rage claimed that 16 people had been killed in the attack. Rage further warned that there will be more attacks against Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Mogadishu. The TFG reported that four people had been killed in the attack.[5]
  • Al Kata’ib Media Foundation, al Shabaab’s media wing, released 11 communiqués on jihadist forums between March 9 and March 12, claiming attacks and activities. The group sent a medical caravan to Baidoa to take care of the sick. In Middle Shabelle, there were dozens of rulings by an Islamic court. In Mogadishu, an “apostate” court official was shot and is now in critical condition. In Beledweyne, two explosive devices were set off, causing a large number of casualties. The group has been distributing aid to nearly 2,000 needy families in Hindheere district of Galgudud region. In Mogadishu, the group targeted allied troops, including Burundians, and “apostates” in the Bakara market, killing and wounding several people. Al Shabaab claimed to have killed more than 70 Ethiopians in a March 10 attack. In Beledweyne, an improvised explosive device (IED) killed at least four Ethiopians. Al Shabaab militants attacked an Ethiopian military base in Bulrar, just south of Baidoa. In Mogadishu, IEDs targeted “apostates.” In Lower Jubba, five TFG soldiers surrendered to al Shabaab and were urged to repent.[6]
  • A report released by the Kenyan government on March 14 concluded that piracy off the Somali coastline has declined by 40% since the start of Operation Linda Nchi, the Kenyan invasion of Somalia. “We knew that piracy is born on the land not the sea,” said General Julius Karangi, the commander of the Kenyan Defense Forces.[7]
  • Four people were wounded during a mortar attack on an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp near Ex-control Afgoi south of Mogadishu. Local sources reported that the mortars originated from al Shabaab-controlled areas, but al Shabaab did not comment on the attack.[8]
  • A landmine blast went off in northern Galkayo outside of the city’s central prison, apparently targeting Lt. Col. Muse Abdirahman Ahmed. There were reported casualties, the colonel not among them, but the number is unknown. No suspect in carrying out the attack has been named.[9]     

[1] “Jihadist Suggests Targeting Critical US Infrastructure,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 14, 2012. Available at SITE.
[2] “Yemen’s Saleh Demands 10 of His Foes Leave the Country with Him,” AP, March 14, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/yemens-saleh-demands-10-of-his-foes-must-leave-the-country-with-him/2012/03/14/gIQAymRZCS_story.html
[3] “Employees of Oil Company Escalate Protests,” Yemen Post, March 14, 2012. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4909&MainCat=3
[4] Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth, “With Arms for Yemen Rebels, Iran Seeks Wider Mideast Role,” New York Times, March 15, 2012. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/world/middleeast/aiding-yemen-rebels-iran-seeks-wider-mideast-role.html
[5] “Al-shabab reveals identity of Suicide attacker in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, March 15, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=16213
“Suicide Bomber Kills 4 in Presidential Palace,” Pakistan Observer, March 15, 2012. Available: http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=145190
[6] “Shabaab Claims Killing Over 70 Ethiopians in Clash, Reports on Activities,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 13, 2012. Available at SITE.  
[7] “Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia Reduced by 40%, Says Kenya,” Radio Bar-Kulan, March 14, 2012. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2012/03/14/piracy-off-the-coast-of-somalia-reduced-by-40-says-kenya/
[8] “4 Injured in Mortar Attacks at IDPs in Somalia Capital,” Shabelle Media Network, March 15, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=16211
[9] “Roadside Blast Rocks a Central Somalia Town,” Shabelle Media Network, March 15, 2012. Available: http://shabelle.net/article.php?id=16224