Gulf of Aden Security Review - September 29, 2011

Yemen: Fresh fighting kills two people in Sana’a; Yemeni intelligence detains more than ten al Qaeda suspects; rocket lands in Yemen Central Security Headquarters; Islamic chants released; car bomb explosion kills one soldier and seven others

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab imposes “charity” tax in Lower Shabelle and Jubba; al Shabaab leaders prepare for assault in Hiraan; al Shabaab announces a conscription of young boys and elderly in Bardera district in Gedo; TFG deploys troops to Beled-hawo; al Shabaab ambushes TFG forces; TFG attacks al Shabaab in Garbaharey in the Gedo region; al Shabaab destroys non-Arabic billboards in Elasha Biyaha 

Yemen Security Brief 

  • Fresh fighting between Republican Guard troops and opposition tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar killed two people and wounded seven others in Sana’a. Explosions and shelling erupted in Hasaba district and spread to other nearby streets.  Additionally, the office of the commander of the First Armored Division reported that one of defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar's personal guards was killed and five others were wounded in the fighting. Yemeni security forces opened fire on children who were rallying in Ibb, protesting the death of Anas al Saeedi, a ten month year-old child who was killed by government forces a week ago. Shelling in Taiz also killed one civilian and injured five others.[1] 
  • A security source reported that Yemeni intelligence services detained at least ten suspected al Qaeda militants who were purchasing motorbikes to use in attacksin Sana’a. This news follows an interview with Sheikh Tariq al Fadhli published in al Omana newspaper in which Fadhli claims that al Qaeda dispatched 300 militants, including 50 suicide bombers, to Sana’a.[2] 
  • A rocket landed in the middle of Yemen’s Central Security Headquarters in Sana’a on September 26 and wounded four soldiers. Those responsible for the attack are still unknown; however, there have been reports that the attack was in response to a similar attack against the First Armored Division.[3] 
  • Al Masada Media Foundation has released two Islamic chants that were posted on jihadist websites on September 11 and September 24. The audio features Ghalib Baqa'iti, also known as Abu Hajer al Hadhrami, an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative and recent escapee from al Mukalla prison. He threatened Muhammad bin Nayef, Saudi Deputy Interior Minister, and anyone else who tries to take a stand against AQAP. The second released audio is titled, "A Message to Emir Abu Baseer," and praises Nasser al Wahayshi, AQAP’s leader, and calls upon all Muslims to attack the enemy in the name of jihad and to continue the fight for control of Abyan governorate.[4] 
  • A military source reported that a car bomb exploded inside a military camp in Sa’ada, killing one soldier. Another source confirmed the incident but claimed that the explosion came from a mine that was placed under a car. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.[5] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief 

  • Al Shabaab imposed a compulsory charity tax on farmers and herders in the rural areas of Lower Shabelle and Jubba regions.  The tax is $25 for properties worth at least $500.  Residents are complaining that they cannot afford the large payment.[6] 
  • Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, and Hassan Dahir Aweys, two of the militant group’s top leaders, arrived in the Bo’o region of Hiraan, 65km south of the group’s stronghold in Beledweyne.  Militant fighters have been streaming into the city over the past several days as government forces have seized and set up bases in towns surrounding the city.  A pro-government militia commander, Col. Issack Ali Ahmed, said that pro-government troops were aware of al Shabaab’s movements and said that they would assault the city in the next few hours.[7] 
  • Al Shabaab in Bardera district in the Gedo region has ordered elderly men and young boys to report to a training camp on the outskirts of the town to begin training for combat against government forces.  Several boys have fled the town so as not to be conscripted.  The group also ordered all locals to close their businesses and attend a lecture about the legality of the war the group is waging against the government.[8] 
  • The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a have deployed forces to the town of Beled Hawo in the Gedo region in preparation for operations in the areas between Beled Hawo, Garbaharey, Luq and Elwaq.[9] 
  • TFG forces were ambushed as they travelled to Garbaharey from Beled Hawo, where they had been gathering.  The attack took place near the village of Libahow on the outskirts of Beled Hawo and involved newly trained TFG troops.  Reports indicate that the fighting was fierce and that both sides suffered casualties but the numbers are currently unknown.[10] 
  • TFG forces backed by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a attacked an al Shabaab militant base in Garbaharey in the Gedo region.  Three people were killed and five others were wounded during the course of the fighting.  Reports say that TFG forces are now in control of the town.[11] 
  • Al Shabaab destroyed all non-Arabic billboards in the town of Elasha Biyaha south of Mogadishu and arrested all those who refused to take down English and Somali language signs by September 28.  The group also ordered schools in the area to stop flying the Somali flag and instead use al Shabaab’s black flag.  Both decrees have been extremely unpopular with locals.[12]

 [1] Ahmed al Haj, “Fresh clashes, explosions rock Yemeni capital,” AP, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/09/29/general-ml-yemen_8707225.html
Mohammed Hatem, “Sana’a Rocked by Gunfire as Yemen Violence Picks up After Lull,” Bloomberg, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-29/sana-a-rocked-by-gunfire-as-yemen-violence-picks-up-after-lull.html
Hakim AlMasmari, “Fresh clashes rock Yemeni capital,” CNN, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/29/world/meast/yemen-unrest/index.html
Erika Solomon, “Renewed fighting kills two in Yemeni capital,” Reuters, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/29/us-yemen-idUSTRE78S0OF20110929
“Rival forces clash across Yemen,” al Jazeera, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/09/20119299653883315.html
[2] Mohammed al Kibsi, “Yemen security detains 10 al-Qaeda suspects dispatched to commit suicide bombings in Sana’a,” Yemen Observer, September 27, 2011. Available: http://www.yobserver.com/front-page/10021458.html
[3] “Rocket Lands in Yemeni Central Security HQ; Four Wounded,” Yemen Post, September 29, 2011. Available: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4134&MainCat=3
[4] “AQAP Prison Escapee Chants Incitement, Threat,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 28, 2011. Available at SITE.
[5] “One soldier killed and Seven Others Wounded in an Explosion of a Car Bomb Inside a Military Camp in Sa’ada,” al Masdar Online, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.almasdaronline.com/index.php?page=news&article-section=1&news_id=23969 [AR]
[6] “Al-Shabaab impose fines to pastoralists in Juba and Shabelle,” SONNA, September 28, 2011. Available: http://www.sonnanews.net/en/read.php?id=451
[7] “Top rebel leaders arrive as tension prevails in Beledweyne, Hiran region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, September 28, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/09/28/top-rebel-leaders-arrive-as-tension-prevails-in-beledweyne-hiran-region
[8] “Rebel group compels elderly men to join its militias in Gedo region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, September 28, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/09/28/rebel-group-compels-elderly-men-to-join-its-militias-in-gedo-region
[9] “TFG and ASWJ ready to hunt for remnant militant fighters in Southern Somalia,” Radio Bar-Kulan, September 28, 2011. Available: http://www.bar-kulan.com/2011/09/28/tfg-and-aswj-ready-to-hunt-for-remnant-militant-fighters-in-southern-somalia
[10] Somali forces, Al shabaab clash in southern Somalia town,” Shabelle Media Network, September 29, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=11349
[11] “Three people killed in southern Somalia town clash,” Shabelle Media Network, September 28, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=11337
[12] Abdulkadir Khalif, “Al-Shabaab targets billboard with non-Arabic scripts,” Africa Review, September 28, 2011. Available: http://www.africareview.com/News/Al+Shabaab+targets+non+Arabic+billboards+/-/979180/1244576/-/dkg276z/-/index.html