Gulf of Aden Security Review - May 10, 2012
Yemen: Airstrike in Jaar kills at least five Ansar al Sharia militants; 10 militants killed by mortar fire in Zinjibar; Yemeni Defense Minister visits Aden to review “combat readiness” in preparation to storm Zinjibar; AQAP releases a eulogy for Fahd al Quso, Yemeni journalist comments on Quso’s death; Zarqawi’s nephew reportedly killed by landmine in Yemen; Madad reports on foreign journalist’s visit to captive soldiers in Abyan
Horn of Africa: Seventeen al Shabaab militants reportedly killed in Bakool region; at least three al Shabaab militants die in premature detonations; al Shabaab arrests 100 elders; both TFG and al Shabaab claim victory in clashes in Bay region; unknown gunmen kill employee of Islamic Relief in Baidoa; UK’s Royal Navy announces it can no longer allocate warship to counter-piracy
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni security officials reported that a pre-dawn airstrike demolished a house in Jaar, a militant stronghold in Abyan governorate, killed at least five Ansar al Sharia militants. Other security officials reported that the strike hit an Ansar al Sharia convoy in Jaar district and that a series of Yemeni airstrikes followed. A total of eight militants had been killed, including one under the name of “Jallad,” responsible for armament.
- Yemeni news agency SABA News reported that 10 Ansar al Sharia militants were killed by Yemeni army shelling in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. A military source confirmed that five other militants were injured and that one tactical vehicle was destroyed by mortar fire.
- Yemeni Defense Minister General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, along with Governor of Aden Waheed Ali Rashid, reportedly visited Badr camp in Aden and reviewed “combat readiness.” According to SABA News Ahmed and Rashid were met by commander of the southern military zone Salem Ali Qatan to discuss ongoing combat preparations to storm Zinjibar.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a eulogy for Fahd al Quso, who was killed in a May 6 airstrike in Shabwah governorate, on jihadist forums on May 9. The eulogy acknowledges Quso’s death by a drone strike as well as his participation in the 2000 USS Cole bombing. The statement adds that the recent drone strikes which have killed five Awlaki clan members within the last year prove the “Crusader’s” hatred of the tribe. Separately, Abdul Razzaq al Jamal, a Yemeni journalist who interviewed Quso prior to his death, commented on the drone strike on his Facebook page, which was then later distributed to jihadist forums on May 7. He states that killing AQAP leaders is merely “symbolic” and has little effect on the group’s survival. Jamal also criticizes the legitimacy of the U.S.’s drone campaign in Yemen, specifically referencing Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Saleh Basindwah’s statement that he was not informed of the drone strike by the U.S.
- The death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s nephew, Muhammad Fazi al Harasheh also known as Abu Hammam, was reported on a jihadist forum on May 8. The forum post states that Harasheh had traveled to Yemen five months earlier to join Ansar al Sharia. He was allegedly killed by a landmine in an unknown location and was buried on May 4.
- Ansar al Sharia’s media wing Madad News Agency released its 16th issue on jihadist forums on May 8. The report focused on a Guardian journalist’s visit to the 73 Yemeni soldier captives, who have now been released, in Abyan governorate. Madad apologized for the delay in the release of the issue and attributed “circumstances beyond its control” as the reason. In the issue, Madad highlights the Yemeni soldiers’ resentment towards the Yemeni Army and government for abandoning them during their fight against Ansar al Sharia on March 4. Madad also details the medical treatment that each soldier received in contrast to the maltreatment of militants jailed in Yemeni prisons.
Horn of Africa Security Review
- A Somali MP reported that at least 17 al Shabaab militants were killed in fighting with Ethiopian and Transnational Federal Government (TFG) forces on May 9. The TFG and Ethiopians attacked an al Shabaab base at Agab Bedey village, near Hudur in Bakool region.
- At least three al Shabaab militants were killed near Elbur city in Galgudud region when roadside bombs detonated prematurely.
- Al Shabaab militants arrested nearly 100 traditional elders on May 9 in three areas: Buqda Aqable in Hiraan region, El Ali in Lower Shabelle, and Mukeyle in Middle Shabelle. Al Shabaab accused the men of traveling to the elders’ conference in Mogadishu, which convened on May 5 to begin the process of drafting a new constitution and establishing a new parliament. The militant group has come out against the conference, announcing that anyone who participates in it is an apostate.
- Both al Shabaab and the TFG claimed a victory in clashes that took place in Awdinle and Qansax Dhere in Bay region on May 9. While the TFG, alongside Ethiopian forces, claimed that it had delivered a decisive attack on al Shabaab, al Shabaab countered that it had successfully ambushed a military convoy.
- Unknown gunmen killed a staff member of Islamic Relief, an international aid and development charity, near his home in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region. No suspects have yet been apprehended and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, al Shabaab has come out strongly against international NGOs in the past and even banned them from operating in territories under its control.
- The Guardian reported that the Royal Navy no longer has enough warships to allocate one to fighting Somali piracy year-round. However, the UK Defense Ministry reported that a warship could be used for “focused surges” rather than maintaining a year-long presence, and that the UK has a multi-faceted approach, beyond counter-piracy, in helping to stabilize Somalia.