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: Al Qaeda releases video eulogizing Anwar al Awlaki urging fellow American Muslims to join the jihad; fighting kills 60 Salafists in combat with al Houthi rebels in Sa’ada governorate; clashes outside of Zinjibar continue between the Yemeni military and al Qaeda-linked fighters
Horn of Africa: Kenyan air raid on Lower Jubba region of Somalia leaves at least 10 people dead; clashes between al Shabaab and TFG near Mogadishu kill at least five people; UN-sponsored talks resume in Puntland capital, Garowe; al Shabaab releases six communiqués on jihadist forums discussing shari’a courses and recent attacks
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video eulogizing radical Islamist cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who was a Yemeni-American leader in AQAP and a driving force for recruitment. In the video, Ibrahim al Rubaish, AQAP’s spiritual leader, says of Awlaki: “As a result [of Awlaki’s influence], the mujaheed brother Nidal Hasan…executed a heroic slaughter in Fort Hood military base, killing those soldiers who were preparing to go to Iraq.” Significantly, an English speaker identified as Abu Yazeed appeared in the video. Experts are uncertain of his identity and believe he may be AQAP’s next attempt to attract Westerners to the jihad.
- Awlaki appeared in the video himself, posthumously exhorting American Muslims, in English, to join the global jihad: “You have two choices: either hijra [emigration] or jihad,” Awlaki said. “I specifically invited the youth to either fight in the West or join their brothers in the fronts of jihad: Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. I invite them to join us in our new front, Yemen, the base from which the great jihad of the Arabian Peninsula will begin, the base from which the greatest army of Islam will march forth.”
- The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that 60 Salafists were killed in combat with al Houthi militants in Sa’ada governorate. That number includes four Russian citizens, who were fighting on the side of the Salafists. They were students at the Salafist Dar al Hadith school in Damaj, a city in Sa’ada governorate, having arrived in Yemen from Russia illegally.
- Combat outside of Zinjibar continued from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning between al Qaeda-linked militants and the Yemeni military. Two men on motorcycles shot and killed an intelligence officer, Muhammad Saleh al Tawus, in the city of al Hota, the capital of Lahij governorate in south Yemen. Security sources reported that al Qaeda was responsible for the attack.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A Kenyan air raid in the southern Somali town of Hosingow killed at least 10 people. At least two Kenyan fighter jets were used in the attack. The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) reported that they had killed 17 al Shabaab militants, including one alleged senior al Shabaab commander. A local eyewitness stated that at least 10 people were killed and 13 more people injured, claiming most were civilians.
- Clashes between al Shabaab militants and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops resulted in the deaths of at least five people in Daynile district near Mogadishu. An unidentifiable number of people were injured during the clashes.
- UN-sponsored talks resumed in Garowe in Puntland in north Somalia. Participants include high-ranking officials from the TFG, the UN, the African Union (AU), Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, and Galmadug administration.
- Al Shabaab released a statement consisting of six communiqués on jihadist forums. In the statement, al Shabaab discusses its shari’a education courses for tribal leaders, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, recent attacks on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and TFG troops, and the surrender of a TFG soldier. The mentioned attacks consisted of bombings in Mogadishu and an attack on TFG troops in the Gedo region on December 16 and 17, respectively.