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: Unidentified gunmen kill head of 201st armored brigade in Lahij; two protesters killed following rally in Taiz
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab hosts conference for Islamic scholars in Baidoa in Bay region; al Shabaab blocks food aid convoys; grenade attack wounds four people in Garissa, Kenya; al Shabaab militants attack TFG checkpoint at Ex-control Afgoi; Ahlu Sunna imposes curfew in Abudwaq in Galgudud region; Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage issues warning to deploying Djiboutian troops
Yemen Security Brief
- A security official reported that unidentified gunmen killed the head of the 201st armored brigade, Colonel Saadan Mohammed al Sufi, in Lahij governorate. The gunmen reportedly ambushed Sufi’s convoy on a road that links Taiz governorate to Lahij governorate and immediately fled the scene. The official added that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is suspected to be responsible for the attack.
- A medical official reported that government security forces, dressed in civilian clothes, shot and killed two protesters on Jamal Street following a massive rally calling for the trial of embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Taiz. Witnesses said the shooter fled the scene in a government vehicle following the attack. Similar protests were reported in 15 other governorates, as well.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab hosted a conference for Islamic scholars in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region, from November 26 through December 3. The conference was attended by Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, Sheikh Muhammad Abu Abdullah and several other senior al Shabaab officials. A press release issued by “The Echo of Jihad Media Center” describes the conference and interviews several of the participants. The press release reported that issues concerning creed, shari’a, and “practical knowledge” were discussed. The conference concluded that the “Islamic provinces” were the legitimate authority in Somalia, confirmed the “apostasy” of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and reaffirmed that drugs, qat, and cigarettes were forbidden. The scholars also suggested that the name of the group be changed from Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen to the Islamic Emirate.
- Al Shabaab militants blocked two convoys of food aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), according to a senior al Shabaab official and local contractors. A local contractor said the militants wanted to check the quality of the food.
- Two grenade blasts wounded four people in Garissa in Kenya. North Eastern Province Police Commissioner James Seriani reported that one of the grenades was thrown into the staff lounge at the prison in Garissa and the other was thrown at a hotel. The attacks occurred simultaneously late December 15.
- Al Shabaab militants launched an attack against a TFG checkpoint at Ex-Control Afgoi early December 16. Shabelle Media Network reported that the fighting was heavy and spread to areas around the checkpoint. Ahmed Allahi, the security chief of Ex-Control Afgoi, claimed victory, saying that TFG forces inflicted heavy casualties on al Shabaab.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a imposed a curfew in Abudwaq in Galgudud region, citing an ongoing security operation.
- Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, spokesman for al Shabaab, issued a warning to Djiboutian troops who will be deploying to Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate. He said, “Djibouti government must dismantle its decision to send troops to Somalia, or otherwise we will be targeting them in our soil . . . we punished the African Union forces who were here before you . . . but you should consider your own choice rather than to be rush to Somalia, here is a burnt place for African invaders.”
“Senior army officer killed in ambush in southern Yemen,” Xinhua, December 16, 2011. Available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/xinhua/2011-12-16/content_4696365.html
 Hakim al Masmari, “2 killed after huge rally in Yemen, medical official says,” CNN, December 16, 2011. Available: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/16/world/meast/yemen-unrest/
 “Shabaab Reports on Scholars Conference, Interviews Presenters,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 16, 2011. Available at SITE.
 Mohamed Ahmed, “Somali Rebels Block ICRC Food Aid Convoys,” Reuters, December 15, 2011. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE7BE0A620111215
 “Twin grenade blasts injure 4 in northern Kenyan town; explosions latest in string of attacks,” AP, December 16, 2011. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/twin-grenade-blasts-injure-4-in-northern-kenyan-town-explosions-latest-in-string-of-attacks/2011/12/16/gIQAnfRZxO_story.html
 “Heavy fighting erupts in famine-stricken Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, December 16, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=13501
 “Ahlu Sunna fighters impose curfew a key town in central Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, December 16, 2011. Available: http://www.shabelle.net/article.php?id=13503
 “Alshabab warns Djibouti not to send troops to Somalia,” SONNA, December 16, 2011. Available: http://www.sonnanews.net/en/read.php?title=alshabab-warns-djibouti-not-to-send-troops-to-somalia&id=1074