Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 11, 2011
Yemen: AQAP confirms death of Anwar al Awlaki; car bomb kills Yemeni air force commander in Lahij; bomb at police station in Aden kills one soldier; pro-government thugs attack women’s march in Taiz; security forces arrest terror cell in Aden; Saleh says he will step down from power
Horn of Africa: Abu Mansour al Amriki lectures on need for Muslims to join jihad; al Shabaab retreats from Burdubo, Gedo region; AMISOM commander vows to expand TFG control to entire country; TFG and AMISOM claim to have secured northeast Mogadishu; al Shabaab burns truckload of qat in Halgan village; militia intercepts al Shabaab explosives in Hiraan; al Shabaab bans the sale of meats from Afgoi slaughterhouse; Kenya steps up security along border; thousands rally against al Shabaab in Mogadishu; al Shabaab forces students in Elasha Biyaha to dress as militants
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) officially confirmed the death of Anwar al Awlaki, a Yemeni-American Islamist cleric, and his companions, Samir Khan, Abu Muhsin al Marbi, and Salim al Marwani, in a statement posted on jihadist forums on October 10. The statement eulogized Awlaki as a martyr. The post called America hypocritical for violating its own principles of “freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms,” in killing two of its citizens in the drone strike. AQAP threatened, “The blood of the Sheikh [Awlaki] and his brothers will not go in vain; there are heroes behind him who do not sleep under oppression and they will retaliate soon.”
- A car bomb killed Colonel Amin al Shami, a Yemeni air force commander after he left Anad base in Lahij governorate. The two people who were riding in the car with Shami survived the attack. A security source said that the same group that exploded a bomb at the police station headquarters in Aden on October 8 is responsible for the attack.
- A security official reported that a bomb exploded at the police station headquarters near the coastal highway in al Qawla district in Aden on October 8. The blast killed one soldier and injured seven others.
- Witnesses reported that pro-government gangs attacked a peaceful women’s march in Taiz with stones and batons on October 10. Thousands of women had gathered in Taiz, Sana’a, and Shabwah governorates to honor Tawakul Karman, a female Yemeni Noble Peace prize recipient. Medics reported that at least 38 women were injured in Taiz.
- A security official reported that Yemeni security forces arrested a terror cell in Tawahi district in Aden. The official said that one terror suspect was arrested in his home where security forces found a factory for the manufacturing of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The official added that the cell has carried out terrorist attacks in the past.
- President Ali Abdullah Saleh said, “I reject power and I will reject power in the coming days and I will leave power in the coming days,” on October 8. Saleh also accused the opposition of inciting violence, attacking military bases, and causing citizens to lose electricity. A spokesman for Yemen’s opposition bloc, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), Mohammed Qahtan, questioned Saleh’s commitment to stepping down. “[Saleh] said that he will sign the [Gulf Cooperation Council] proposal three times, but declined to do so each time," said Qahtan.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- An al Shabaab commander Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, released an English-language video, titled “Lessons Learned.” Amriki noted that Muslims should not wait for scholars to call for jihad and hijra, but should enter on these themselves. He added that those who have called for them have been labeled as apostates by others.
- Al Shabaab militants pulled out of their positions in Burdubo district of Gedo region following reports that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a forces had made camp in the neighboring Fanweyn district. Ahlu Sunna spokesman Mohammed Hussein al Qadi said that the troops were moving towards Burdubo in an effort to remove al Shabaab militants from the area.
- Major General Fred Mugisha, commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMSIOM), vowed to expand TFG control. He said that AMISOM and TFG forces would soon reach Afgoi, Marka, and other parts of the country. He claimed that al Shabaab funds its war efforts with money from hijackings and ransom payments.
- TFG forces, backed by AMISOM, secured Halima Haiti Hill in Karan district in Mogadishu on October 8. The offensive against al Shabaab militants in the capital city continued, and on October 10, AMISOM spokesman Lt. Colonel Paddy Ankunda reported that the TFG now controls the former pasta factory and Ex-control Bal’ad in northeast Mogadishu. Ankunda added that one soldier was killed and six others were injured.
- Al Shabaab seized a pickup truck carrying $2500 of qat and set fire to it in Halgan village 50 km from Beledweyne in the Hiraan region. Sources alleged that the group captured the driver and turnboy from the truck and tortured them. Al Shabaab had not banned the drug in that area and no reason was given for the burning.
- A pro-government militia in Jawil area of Hiraan region intercepted a car loaded with land mines and grenades that had left from Beledweyne. The two militants driving the car escaped. Militia commander Colonel Issack Ali Mohamed said that the group was planning to use the explosives for another suicide attack.
- Al Shabaab has banned the sale of meat at an Afgoi slaughterhouse and ordered locals to purchase meat from a newly established butchery. The group also banned the sale of meat from households and threatened to fine violators $500. Locals suspect that the group wants to control all meat production in the area.
- Kenya has stepped up security in response to the recent kidnappings of western nationals near the border of Somalia. The measures include establishing six patrol bases in Manda, Shella, Kiwayu and Kipuni and increasing the number of sea patrols.
- Thousands of Somalis gathered in Konis Stadium, a former soccer stadium in Mogadishu’s Abdi Aziz district, to demonstrate against al Shabaab’s suicide attack last week. Speakers included the TFG’s president, prime minister, and local elders.
- Al Shabaab has begun forcing students in the town of Elasha Biyaha to dress like militants while the militants themselves dress like students. Locals are also reporting the group is using public transportation with civilians, which has caused fear among the population.