Gulf of Aden Security Review
A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.
Yemen: U.S. puts al Awlaki on targeted kill list; Saleh orders release of detainees in Hadramawt; journalists protest new media law; HRW urges Yemen to investigate war crimes in the north; 10 separatists arrested in Lahij
Horn of Africa: AQAP reportedly lands in Somalia; EU begins training of Somali soldiers; al Shabaab conducts hit-and-run attack; fighting between Islamists resumes in Mataban district; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a denies al Shabaab’s claim of killing officer; al Shabaab executes one of its own fighters; Somali President corresponds with Kenyan President on the location of Kenyan troop deployment; Somali pirates to finally release British couple
Yemen Security Brief
- The Obama administration authorized Tuesday the targeted killing of Anwar al Awlaki, both a radical Muslim cleric and an American citizen. Al Awlaki is believed to be in hiding in Yemen, where he communicated with both Nidal Hassan, the perpetrator of the Fort Hood shootings, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas. Representative Jane Harman of California said on a panel Tuesday that al Awlaki is “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us.”
- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered the release of all detainees being held in Hadramawt governorate for protesting against the government. Among the released was journalist Fuad Rashid. President Saleh’s order came in response to the opposition Joint Meeting Parties call for the prisoners’ release as a step to building peace in Hadramawt.
- Yemeni journalists have called for the government to scrap a pending law that would require news agencies to pay high fees to broadcast over satellite television. Journalists are worried that the new law would restrict broadcasting to only the rich and well-connected.
- Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Yemeni government and al Houthi forces must investigate war crimes that occurred during fighting between both sides. Recently released pictures by Amnesty International indicate there were instances of indiscriminate bombing of civilian buildings in northern Yemen.
- 10 southern separatists have been arrested over the past two days in the southern province of Lahij. The southern movement called for a general strike and civil disobedience in Lahij and Dhale on Monday from 6 AM to 6 PM.
Horn of Africa Brief
- Somali Treasury Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman stated in the last two weeks at least 12 AQAP officials have entered Somalia from Yemen, according to Somali intelligence. Osman further stated the AQAP officials were “sent off to assess the situation to see if al Qaeda may move its biggest military bases to southern Somalia since they are facing a lot of pressure in Afghanistan and Iraq.” [Editor’s note: CTP plans to provide further analysis on this claim in the coming days.]
- The EU has plans to train 2,000 Somali troops in Uganda in order to strengthen the TFG. Col. Ricardo Gonzalez Elul, the Spanish commander of the EU training mission (EUTM Somalia) stated the soldiers would be trained in mine awareness, fighting in urban areas, communications, and combat medicine training. Col. Elul also stated training equipment would mainly be supplied by the U.S. and Uganda, and eventually equipment would be provided by both the AU and EUTM Somalia.
- Islamist rebel group al Shabaab launched a hit-and-run attack in the town of Mareergur, in the central Somali region of Galgudud, which is controlled by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a. Al Shabaab claimed the death of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a’s commander, Madobe Omar Ahmed Kadiye, after the fighting in Mareergur. However, Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a denied al Shabaab’s claim and added they drove their forces out of the town.
- Fighting resumed in the town of Mataban, in the Hiraan region, between al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a. The resumed fighting comes after Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a recaptured Mataban from al Shabaab yesterday.
- Al Shabaab executed one of its own fighters, Muse Abdi Abud, after its Islamic court in the coastal town of Marka, the capital of the Middle Shabelle region, sentenced him to public execution. Abud was sentenced to death for killing a civilian.
- Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed corresponded with Kenyan President Kibaki stating that he does not want Kenya deploying 2,500 Somali troops to Somalia's southern Juba region, but rather to Mogadishu to fight the Islamist rebels. However, Kenya wants to deploy the troops to the Juba region in order to create a buffer between Kenya and the regions of southern Somalia controlled by al Shabaab.
- It has been reported that Somali pirates plan on releasing the elderly and frail British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, after being held hostage for six months in Harardhere, a pirate town in north eastern Somalia. According to reports, the pirates have been promised an undisclosed ransom payment for the Chandler couple’s release.