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: Maj. Gen. Ali al Ahmadi tells Iran to stop funding and training al Houthi rebels in Yemen; Iran is reportedly planning assassinations against Gulf diplomats in Yemen; gunmen ambush military convoy in Ma’rib governorate, kill senior officers; Yemeni military forces shell reported al Qaeda location in Ma’rib governorate; gunmen attempt to assassinate senior counter-terrorism officer in Sana’a; commander of Special Forces in al Hudaydah governorate survives an assassination attempt; Ministry of Electricity officials reveal plans by assailants to bomb gas-operated electricity plant in Ma’rib governorate; trial begins for suspect in defense minister assassination attempt in Aden city; gunmen attack vehicle belonging to the Sana’a central prison; tribesmen seize five transportation trucks in Shabwah governorate; explosive ordnance disposal teams disarm explosive device in Hadramawt governorate; Southerner’s National Conference will convene December 16; Central Security Forces arrest three traffic policemen in Aden city; counter-terrorism forces foil bombing plot in Sana’a
Horn of Africa: Somali and AMISOM troops capture Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; grenade attack occurs in Eastleigh, Nairobi; grenade attack occurs in the Wadajir district, Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims 52 attacks and promises a takeover of Kismayo; Kenyan soldier and civilian killed in Garissa, Kenya; Somali and AMISOM troops remove roadblocks in Beledweyne, Hiraan region, roadblocks rebuilt in Mogadishu; Kenyan police arrest man carrying guns in Elwaq, Kenya; UN worker arrested for helping al Shabaab in Baidoa, Bay region; U.S. wants to help train and equip Somali soldiers; the Japanese government gives its support to the new Somali government
Yemen Security Brief
- Maj. Gen. Ali Hassan al Ahmadi, director of the National Security Service, urged Iran on December 9 to stop training and funding al Houthi rebels in Yemen. Maj. Gen. Ahmadi stated that Yemen has evidence that proves Iran is interfering in regional politics, attempting to broaden conflict and influence. Maj. Gen. Ahmadi also spoke about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, stating the group numbers around 700-800 members, a few hundred of which are of Saudi nationality.
- A local Yemeni news source reported on December 9 that security reports suggest Iran is planning to assassinate Gulf workers and diplomats in Yemen. The news source, citing an unidentified security official, added that about 20 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers, posing as Shi’ite preachers, have been in Sana’a for about a month.
- Unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy of Yemeni military officers and soldiers in Ma’rib governorate on December 8. Local sources reported that Gen. Nasser Naji bin Farid, a senior commander with the Middle Military District, was killed in the ambush. Another senior officer, identified as Col. Hamid al Qaher, was killed. At least two more officers and six soldiers were either wounded or killed. Local sources believe al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) played a role in the ambush.
- Yemeni military forces shelled a reported al Qaeda location in Ma’rib governorate on December 9. The attacks followed an ambush on senior Yemeni military officials in Ma’rib governorate on December 8. Senior al Qaeda leader, Saeed bin Muaily, was killed along with three other al Qaeda members. Tribal officials in the region reported that one of the rockets fired by Yemeni military officials missed its target and killed at least one civilian.
- Unidentified assailants attempted to assassinate a counter-terrorism officer in Sana’a on December 10. The officer, identified as Maj. Mohsen Hamran, was attacked by assailants in front of his home in Naqm neighborhood of Sana’a. Maj. Hamran was wounded in the attack and later transferred to a hospital in Sana’a. Sources added that Maj. Hamran was reportedly commissioned to protect a funeral procession for soldiers killed in an ambush in Ma’rib governorate on December 8.
- Local sources reported that Ahmed Mana’a, Commander of Special Forces in al Hudaydah governorate, survived an assassination attempt on December 7. Unidentified assailants reportedly opened fire on Mana’a’s vehicle, leading to two of his bodyguards being wounded. Three of alleged attackers were arrested following the attack.
- Officials at the Yemeni Ministry of Electricity revealed on December 8 that information was received about plans to bomb the gas-operated Ma’rib electricity plant. The officials reported that the bombing attempt may have completely destroyed the electricity plant.
- Trial proceedings began on December 10 for an individual suspected of playing a role in the September 27, 2011 assassination attempt of Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed. The suspect was identified as Kamel Hussein al Tharehi.
- Unidentified assailants attacked a vehicle belonging to the central prison in Sana’a on December 8. Local sources reported that assailants riding in two vehicles attacked the central prison vehicle in an attempt to release prisoners. A Yemeni soldier, identified as Rashid al Nazili, was killed in the attack and other Yemeni soldiers were wounded.
- Local sources reported on December 9 that tribesmen from the al Mansour tribe seized five transportation trucks in Jardan region of Shabwah governorate. The trucks were reportedly carrying equipment to repair damaged oil pipelines in Shabwah. The vehicles belong to the Yemeni LNG (liquefied natural gas) Company.
- Yemeni explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams disarmed an explosive device planted in the vehicle of a senior security official in Hadramawt governorate on December 8. Local sources reported that the senior official, identified Salem al Safra, serves as the Director of Operations in Hadramawt governorate.
- The Preparation Committee for the Southerners’ National Conference approved a date for the conference to take place in Aden city. The conference will convene on December 16.
- Central Security Forces (CSF) arrested three traffic policemen in Aden on December 9. Local sources reported that the three traffic policemen were arrested for not abiding by traffic management rules.
- Counter-terrorism forces arrested three people attempting to bomb a local market in Sana’a on December 10. The three individuals were carrying a large amount of explosions and were reportedly from al Bayda governorate. Local sources in Yemen reported that the attempted bombing could have been one of the deadliest ever, based on the amount of explosives seized.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali and AMISOM troops capture Jowhar, Middle Shabelle on December 9. Al Shabaab militants fled the town before the advancing troops arrived and Somali and AMISOM troops were able to capture Jowhar peacefully. Al Shabaab leader Yussuf Isse said the retreat was a tactical decision by the terrorist organization because the group has changed its fighting tactics. Leaders from the Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militia said that al Shabaab militants are now moving into the Galgudud region and committing crimes against humanity, since the group’s withdrawal from Jowhar.
- A grenade attack occurred in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya on December 7. The grenade was thrown from a vehicle and targeted worshippers leaving a mosque. Five were killed in the blast and at least 16 were wounded, including Kenyan Minister of Parliament Yusuf Hassan. This was the second explosive attack in Eastleigh in one week. Following the blast, Kenyan police carried out searches arresting around one hundred Somalis who were not able to show proper identification.
- A grenade attack targeted a group of young people watching a soccer game in a video show room in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu on December 8. Two people were killed and three others were injured in the blast. The attackers were able to flee the scene and no arrests have yet been made. No group has claimed responsibility for explosion.
- Al Shabaab released 17 communiqués on December 2 claiming 52 attacks on Somali troops and their AMISOM allies. Al Shabaab governor in the Jubba region, Abdul Rahman Abu Hudhayfa, also said how al Shabaab has assembled its ranks and will soon retake Kismayo.
- A Kenyan soldier and a civilian were shot and killed outside a shop in Garissa, Kenya on December 9. The two men were sitting outside of a shop when gunmen approached them and shot them in the head. The shop owner was also shot during the attack but is in the hospital in stable condition. One suspect has been arrested in connection with the killing.
- Somali and AMISOM troops conducted security operations in Beledweyne, Hiraan region on December 9. The government and AMISOM soldiers removed illegal roadblocks in the Hawo Tako and Kooshin neighborhoods. Roadblocks that were taken down by Somali security forces have been rebuilt in the Dharkenley district of Mogadishu as of December 9.
- Kenyan police arrested a man in Elwaq, Kenya on December 9, who was carrying six guns, several empty magazines, and one full magazine. The police, who were tipped off, believed the man to be heading toward Garissa or Nairobi.
- The United Nations worker who was reported kidnapped by Somali soldiers in Baidoa, Bay region, has actually been arrested for helping al Shabaab militants. The Food and Agriculture Organization worker was taken into custody for providing aid to the terrorist organization.
- United States Ambassador to Uganda, Scott H DeLisi said the U.S. government wants to play a more active role in training and equipping the Somali army. He explained that Somalia is in a crucial post-wartime position and needs a well trained police force to keep the peace.
- The Japanese government gave its support to the new Somali government by deciding to directly engage with the newly formed government. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud welcomed Japan’s support and said the relationship between Somalia and Japan will be strengthened.