Gulf of Aden Security Review - May 14, 2013

Yemen: AQAP releases detainees in exchange for three militants; President Obama extends state of emergency in Yemen; Yemeni army clashes with AQAP and Ansar al Sharia in Abyan governorate; leader of demining unit in Sa’ada governorate killed in explosion; tribal gunmen clash in Shabwah governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Somali and AMISOM bases in Gofgadud, Bay region; three roadside bombs explode outside the defense ministry in Mogadishu; Somaliland police arrest parents of two al Shabaab leaders in Hargeisa, Wooqooyi Galbeed region; Somali and AMISOM troops clear roadside bomb in Jowhar, Lower Shabelle region; unknown gunmen kill two civilians in Garowe, Nugaal region; al Shabaab spokesman says over 3,000 AMISOM troop deaths in Somalia since 2007; Somali officials warn of online al Shabaab recruiting; U.S. court sentences Somali terrorist to ten years in prison; Kenyan authorities revive Kenyan Police Reservist program in Garissa, Kenya; Puntland passes law to create first constitutional court; Somali government to take control of airspace by end of 2013; Somali refugees move from Dadaab refugee camp to Elwaq, Gedo region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released two Abyani detainees who have been held captive for seven months on May 13. In exchange, Yemeni authorities released three AQAP militants.[1]
  • President Barack Obama, in a letter addressed to Congress, announced on May 13 that he has decided to extend the state of emergency in Yemen due to “actions and policies” that threaten Yemen’s transition. President Obama laid the blame on various members of the Yemeni government as well as other individuals.[2]
  • The Yemeni army has been clashing with AQAP and Ansar al Sharia militants in Wadi Marjan and al Murakasha in Abyan governorate since May 12. At least five soldiers and eleven militants have been killed as the Yemeni military attempts to retain control over these areas.[3]
  • The commander of a military demining team in Sa’ada governorate was killed on May 14 when a landmine exploded in al Mulahidh district. Three others were injured.[4]
  • Gunmen from the al Barik and the al Karb tribes clashed over a land dispute in an oil-rich area of Shabwah governorate on May 13, leaving four people dead.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) bases in Gofgadud, Bay region on May 13. Five people were killed and ten were injured during the fighting. Two of the dead and nine of the injured were civilians. Somali and AMISOM troops rebuffed the attack and are still in control of the town.[6]
  • Three consecutive roadside bombs exploded outside the defense ministry in Mogadishu on May 14. The attack targeted a convoy of Somali troops, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. There are conflicting casualty reports ranging from no casualties to several people killed and injured.[7]
  • Somaliland police arrested the parents of al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubair and senior level commander Ibrahim al Afgani in Hargeisa, Wooqooyi Galbeed on May 13. Authorities questioned the parents about where their sons may be. Somaliland police cautioned the public to be wary of potential terrorist attacks due to the arrests.[8]
  • Somali and AMISOM troops found and cleared a roadside bomb near a bridge in Jowhar, Lower Shabelle region on May 13.[9]
  • Unknown gunmen shot and killed two civilians in Garowe, Nugaal region on May 13. The attackers fled the scene, and Puntland authorities made several arrests following the murders.[10]
  • Al Shabaab spokesman Abdi Abu Musab claimed the United Nations falsely reported that 3,000 AMISOM troops have been killed in Somalia since 2007. According to Musab, 3,000 AMISOM peacekeepers have been killed in Mogadishu alone, and the number of AMISOM deaths throughout Somalia is much higher.[11]
  • Somali officials warned Somali and Kenyan youth that al Shabaab has shifted its recruiting tactics towards targeting young people using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.[12]
  • United States federal prosecutors sentenced Kamal Said Hassam to ten years in prison on May 13 for training and fighting with the Somali terror group al Shabaab.[13]
  • Kenyan authorities announced the revival of the Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) program in Garissa, Kenya. The KPR program trains and arms civilian fighters to combat al Shabaab threats and was initially shut down in 2004 due to violent crime and corruption linked to its members.[14]
  • Puntland Council of Ministers passed a law on May 13 creating the state’s first constitutional court.[15]
  • The Somali government announced that by the end of the year it will be taking over control of its airspace from the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority of Somalia (CACAS). CACAS, which is currently based in Nairobi, will move to Mogadishu.[16]
  • Somali refugees living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya are returning home and settling in Elwaq, Gedo region. In the past two months, floods and rising insecurity have forced 670 Somali refugees to cross the border back into Somalia.[17]        

[1] “AQAP frees two Lawdar natives for 3 of its members,” Barakish, May 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=11&id=50152
[2] “Letter—Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Yemen,” White House, May 13, 2013. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/13/letter-continuation-national-emergency-respect-yemen
[3] “16 killed in clashes between the Yemeni army and AQAP militants in Abyan,” Al Tagheer, May 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://al-tagheer.com/news57402.html
[4] “Commander of demining unit in al Mulahidh killed, 3 others wounded by landmine,” Barakish, May 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=23&id=50159
[5] “Shabwah: 4 killed in a tribal dispute over oil-rich land,” Mareb Press, May 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available: http://marebpress.net/news_details.php?sid=55513&lng=arabic
[6] “Al Shabaab Raids Joint Troops in Gof-Gadud,” Bar Kulan, May 14, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/05/14/al-shabaab-raids-joint-troops-in-gof-gadud/
[7] “Series of Explosion Reported in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, May 14, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/05/14/series-of-explosions-reported-in-mogadishu/
[8] “Parents of al Shabaab Commanders Detained by Somaliland Authorities,” Shabelle, May 13, 2013. Available: http://shabelle.net/parents-of-alshabab-commanders-detained-by-somaliland-authorities/
[9] “Joint Troops Remove Mine Planted in Jowhar Bridge,” Bar Kulan, May 13, 2013. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2013/05/13/joint-troops-remove-mine-planted-in-jowhar-bridge/
[10] “Two People Killed in Garowe, Punland,” AMISOM, May 14, 2013. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/may-14-2013-daily-monitoring-report/
[11] “Somalia: Al Shabaab Says it Killed Over 3000 AMISOM Forces in Mogadishu,” Radio Mustaqbal, May 14, 2013. Available: http://www.mustaqbalradio.com/somalia-al-shabab-says-it-killed-over-3000-amisom-forces-in-mogadishu/
[12] “Al Shabaab Recruiting Youth Online,” Star News, May 12, 2013. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/may-14-2013-daily-monitoring-report/
[13] “Man Gets 10 Years in Somali Terror Investigation,” AP, May 14, 2013. Available: http://hiiraan.com/news4/2013/May/29350/man_gets_10_years_in_somali_terror_investigation.aspx
[14] “Kenya to Revive Police Reservists in Garissa to Fight al Shabaab,” Sabahi Online, May 13, 2013. Available: http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/features/2013/05/13/feature-01
[15] “Somalia: Council of Ministers Pass Puntland Constitutional Court Law,” Garowe Online, May 13, 2013. Available: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Council_of_Ministers_pass_Puntland_Constitutional_Court_Law.shtml
[16] “Somalia: Government to Take Over Somalia Airspace Control at the End of this Year,” Raxanreeb, May 13, 2013. Available: http://www.raxanreeb.com/2013/05/somalia-govt-to-take-over-somalia-airspace-control-at-the-end-of-this-year/
[17] “Refugees From Dadaab Descend on Elwaq, Gedo Region,” Radio Ergo, May 13, 2013. Available: http://somaliamediamonitoring.org/may-14-2013-daily-monitoring-report/