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: Yemeni government, al Houthi rebels trade accusations over failing ceasefire; U.S. Treasury Department authorizes ACLU to sue on Awlaki’s behalf; security officials in Dhaleh say suicide bomber was separatist, not al Qaeda
Horn of Africa: American arrested attempting to aid al Shabaab; U.S. Department of Justice unseals 14 indictments of Americans supporting al Shabaab; TFG forces attack al Shabaab base near Ethiopian border, 21 dead; Aweys denounces increased AMISOM troop deployment, Ugandan commander says ADF complicit with al Shabaab; internal report cites lack of trust between AMISOM, TFG; expelled Puntland MPs declare allegiance to SSC rebels; 2 dead, 15 wounded in Bakara Market shelling; dispute in Somali Parliament over PM Sharmarke’s no-confidence vote; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a imposes modesty restrictions on weddings
Yemen Security Brief
- The Yemeni government and al Houthi rebels traded accusations over shortcomings of the current truce, which has been in place since February. President Ali Abdullah Saleh said the rebels contained “extremist” and “war monger” elements, but expressed his commitment to the ceasefire. "We are insistent on a peace process and will not be dragged into a seventh war," he said. Abdul Malik al Houthi said peace negotiations were at an advanced stage, but claimed the government was dragging its feet on several terms of the agreement. "The clearest example of this are the many (rebel) prisoners (who should have been freed under) several agreements," he said.
- The U.S. Treasury Department granted permission to the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit on behalf of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki. The group will challenge a directive from President Barack Obama authorizing the U.S. military to kill him on sight.
- Security officials in Dhaleh said on Wednesday that a Southern Movement militant executed the suicide bombing at a police station that wounded nine policemen on Tuesday. Authorities discovered the perpetrator was a soldier from Sana’a, Saleh Ali Hadi, and that he was not an al Qaeda operative as initially suspected.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Shaker Masri, a 26-year-old Chicago man, was arrested Tuesday night after the FBI uncovered his plot to travel to Somalia and join al Shabaab. Masri claimed radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki inspired him, and that his ultimate goal was to become a suicide bomber. Prosecutors allege that he told an FBI informant that "he did not expect to reach the age of 30" and that he "hoped to become a martyr by wearing a suicide vest," and that he told the informant, "he only wanted one thing, 'a suicide mission.'" Masri is the second American arrested in the past month on suspicion of attempting to join al Shabaab, following the arrest of Virginian Zachary Chesser on July 21.
- The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed 14 indictments of Americans who have joined or attempted to join al Shabaab. Those indicted include: Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki; Jehad Mostafa; Amina Ali; Hawo Hassan; Abdikadir Ali Abdi; Abdisalan Hussein Ali; Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax; Farah Mohamed Beledi; Abdiweli Yassin Isse; Ahmed Ali Omar; Khalid Mohamud Abshir; Zakaria Maruf; Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan; and Mustafa Ali Salat.
- A battle between TFG forces and al Shabaab militants in Hebrow, a village near the Ethiopian border, killed at least 21 combatants on Wednesday. The government troops attacked an al Shabaab base in the village near Yed, a town in the Bakool region that they captured on Saturday. Colonel Mohamed Ali, a local security official, said his forces lost seven soldiers in the fighting, but killed more militants than the casualties his men sustained. A local elder, Mohamed Awdinle, said Ethiopia assisted government forces in the operation. "The village where the fighting took place is only 20 kilometers from the Ethiopian border and there were some Ethiopian officials who were helping the Somali government forces in the fighting," he said.
- Hizb al Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys denounced AMISOM’s planned increased troop deployment, saying it would only create more problems for Somalis and that he would not negotiate with the government so long as the troops were in Somalia. “AMISOM is inflicting suffering to Mogadishu residents, increasing their size will mean increase in the suffering,” he said. Additionally, he denied reports that unity talks between him and al Shabaab’s leadership “have not stalled.” Separately, Ugandan army spokesman Lt. Col. Felix Kuliagye said materials seized by the Ugandan army in the Democratic Republic of Congo from an Allied Democratic Forces base suggest cooperation with al Shabaab. “The al Shabaab and the ADF are both being trained by al Qaeda, ADF worked closely with the al Shabaab militants to execute the July 11 attacks in Kampala,” he said.
- An internal report obtained by the Associated Press said that AMISOM and government troops don’t trust one another, and that the TFG “lacks consistency, coherence and coordination.”
- Three Puntland legislators who were expelled last week from parliament on accusations of ties to a rebel group declared that they will join the rebels and fight Puntland. “The President of Puntland has never been collaborating with the residents Sool, Sanag and Ceeyn [sic] and has always been lagging behind about the social issues of the three regions which play significant role in the welfare of Puntland,” said Abshir Abdi Aziz, one of the former MPs.
- Shelling in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market killed two civilians and wounded another 15 Wednesday. Local sources accused AMISOM of indiscriminate shelling, but it denied the charges.
- A dispute in the Somali Parliament emerged following Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke’s refusal to face a vote of no-confidence over his expired term. Several legislators accused Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden for protecting Sharmarke from facing the vote, as well as other charges on violation of procedure. Sharmarke did not appear for a vote on Monday, which was rescheduled for Thursday.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a imposed a restriction on weddings in areas under its control, limiting entourages to three cars and prohibiting celebrations after a couple’s honeymoon. The group said these practices were too extravagant and therefore un-Islamic.