Gulf of Aden Security Review - October 26, 2011
Yemen: Violence continues in Yemen; car bomb explodes in Aden; ceasefire broken within hours of issuance; jihadist issue reports al Wuhayshi not killed in airstrike; President Saleh meets with U.S. ambassador to Yemen; Yemeni women burn traditional female veils in protest against government crackdown
Horn of Africa: Kenyan police arrest man in connection to grenade attacks; al Shabaab fighters reinforce Afmadow; large demonstrations in Mogadishu; Kenyan police arrest suspected member of al Shabaab outside courthouse; Galmudug officials arrest people for kidnapping; al Shabaab lifts ban on qat in Jowhar
Yemen Security Brief
- Shelling killed two people and injured three others in the Old City in Sana’a. Opposition groups blamed the government for the deaths while a government official blamed defected First Armored Division troops, led by defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, for the deaths. In Taiz, shelling also killed two more people and residents reported that government forces were attacking neighborhoods.
- A car bomb targeting a high-ranking security official reportedly exploded in Aden. The official was not in the car when the explosion occurred.
- The Yemeni government issued a ceasefire between government troops and anti-government troops in Sana’a on Tuesday afternoon; however, within hours of its issuance, the truce was broken with reports of more violent clashes in Sana’a and Taiz. Medics reported that the overnight death toll had reached up to 25 people killed.
- A new Yemeni jihadist group, Madad News Agency, released a three-page issue, covering the activities of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the al Qaeda-linked group Ansar al Sharia in Abyan governorate, on jihadist forums on October 25. The issue provides reports on Ansar al Sharia’s battles with Yemeni security forces and describes the group’s humanitarian services during the holy month of Ramadan. The issue also reported in a “special statement” that AQAP leader Nasser al Wahayshi, also known as Abu Basir, is still alive despite media reports that he was killed in an airstrike. It also featured photos of AQAP suicide bomber Abu Bakr Muhammad al Najda, who was responsible for the August 15 al Houthi attack in al Jawf governorate.
- U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a to discuss the president’s stepping down from power after a cease-fire had been announced.
- Hundreds of Yemeni women set a pile of traditional female veils on fire in protest to the government’s violence against anti-government protesters. This act is reportedly a “symbolic Bedouin tribal gesture” that is intended to invoke help from tribesmen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Kenyan police arrested a man in connection to the recent grenade attacks on a nightclub and a bus stop. The suspect is in possession of a large weapons cache including 14 grenades, two submachine guns, and four pistols. Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino said that the suspect had been arrested in Kayole, a suburb of Nairobi. Kenyan authorities do not believe that the grenade attacks were caused by al Shabaab. Alfred Mutua, a Kenyan government spokesman, said, “It was two young guys inspired by Al-Shabaab, but not directed by Al-Shabaab leadership.”
- Locals report that al Shabaab fighters continue to arrive in Afmadow in preparation for an expected Kenyan attack. The reinforcements are arriving from Kismayo, Salagle, Bu’ale, and Ras Kamboni.
- Large demonstrations organized by the local government occurred in Mogadishu. The people were supporting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s comments regarding the Kenyan military operation in the south. Mogadishu Governor Mohamud Ahmed Nur said at the rally that Somalis should be united in everything and fight against al Shabaab.
- Court orderlies arrested a man suspected of being a member of al Shabaab outside of the Milimani Law Court. The arrest took place when the man was observed loitering and did not understand either English or Kiswawili or have any form of identification present. An officer involved in the arrest said, “I saw him pacing up and about, when I questioned him and I realized he could not express himself in Kiswahili or English. I called my colleagues and he took his cell phone and called someone. We did not know who he was so we handed him over to the police for further interrogation.” Another officer said that a man accompanying the suspect fled.
- Officials in Galmudug in Galkayo have arrested several people in connection to the kidnapping of an American woman, Danish man, and Somalia med. Galmudug Security Officer Abdi Hassan Qorey said that the arrests occurred during search operations in Bajera district east of Galkayo. He said that they don’t know where those abducted had been taken to. Locals say that the people abducted are being held in Helibi Village in Mudug region and that they will be handed over to pirates.
- A new al Shabaab administration in Jowhar lifted a ban on the sale of qat put in place earlier this year. Locals are allowed to sell the narcotic in a designated area in the town market. The mostly female traders who sell qat welcomed the move and said the original ban was illegal and had hurt their business.