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: Security at Gulf Cup successful, with no attacks during the tournament; Yemen seeks greater international aid for its police force; AQAP claims death of Houthi leader happened during a November suicide bombing; Yemeni Minister Alimi summoned by Parliament after WikiLeaks revelations; WikiLeaks cable says that Saleh refused Petraeus’s offer of ground troops; five AQAP suspects hand themselves over in Abyan; Yemeni Interior Minster offers $100,000 reward for eight named AQAP suspects; Yemeni Foreign Minister says economy is the greatest challenge facing Yemen

Horn of Africa: Southern California man indicted on charges of supporting al Shabaab; Hawiye elders ask AMISOM to cease shelling in civilian areas; al Shabaab and TFG claim victory in latest round of fighting in Mogadishu; Hizb al Islam faction joins TFG; one Horn Relief aid worker killed and two injured in attack in Puntland; head of UN anti-piracy program is wary of secrecy in new Puntland anti-piracy force; five Somali pirates to be tried by Dutch court; Bangladeshi ship with 23 on board hijacked by Somali pirates; Puntland parliament passes new law regarding pirates

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Gulf Cup in Aden ended Sunday night without a single terrorist attack.  President Saleh spent $600 million on the event, with heightened security being one of the main priorities.  30,000 police officers and soldiers patrolled the area around the arena and six field hospitals were set up in case of an attack, in addition to other measures.  A member of the southern secessionist movement, that had threatened an attack during the event, said, “We decided it is better not to mix sports and politics… The regime could take advantage of this.”[1]
  • Yemeni foreign minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi says that Yemen is seeking greater international assistance in funding and training its police force.  International aid is currently only given to Yemen’s counterterrorism forces.  Qirbi said, “Police are the front lines of any long-term security strategy.  You can’t fight, bring law and order, unless you [have a presence] in the remote settlements and communities where [insurgents] are located.”[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement on jihadist forums on December 3 saying that the death of Houthi leader Badr al Din al Houthi, which had been attributed to natural causes, actually occurred during a November 24 AQAP suicide attack on an al Houthi procession in al Jawf that left over 30 people dead.  The statement addressed the al Houthis, saying “This flagrant lie, falsification, and concealment of facts will only fool the fools amongst your followers, who you deceive with falsehoods, just as your ugly lie that your preliminary investigations indicate that the one who carried out the blessed martyrdom-seeking operation in al-Jawf is the Israeli Mossad and the American intelligence!”[3]
  • Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs Rashad al Alimi has been summoned by Parliament following WikiLeaks revelations that he lied to Parliament about U.S. airstrikes in Yemen.[4]
  • According to a cable released by WikiLeaks on Friday, Yemeni President Saleh refused General Petraeus’s offer to station ground troops in Yemen to fight al Qaeda.  In September 2009, however, Saleh had told U.S. counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, “I have given you an open door on terrorism.”[5]
  • Five al Qaeda suspects handed themselves over to the authorities in Abyan governorate.  This brings the total number of AQAP militants that have surrendered in the last few months to over 35.[6]
  • Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi said at a security conference on Sunday that the main challenge facing Yemen is its economy, not al Qaeda, the al Houthis, or the southern secessionists.  Qirbi said, “Stability is linked to development.  Stability cannot be achieved without development.”[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Southern California’s Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mahmoud has been indicted on charges of supporting al Shabaab.  According to the indictment, Mahmoud used the front of raising money for the poor to fundraise for al Shabaab.[8]
  • Elders of the Hawiye clan have asked AMISOM troops to cease shelling in areas heavily populated by civilians.  Chairperson of the Hawiye clans Mohamed Hassan Had said, “We have told AMISOM troops to cease the shelling, because it might cause only civilian casualties.  We had informed many times earlier and we are now repeating AMISOM to halt it.”[9]
  • Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abu Mus’ab said in a telephone press conference that al Shabaab has been victorious in the latest round of fighting between the insurgents and government troops in Mogadishu that has left at least 22 dead and 35 wounded.  Meanwhile, General Mohamud Mohamed Saney of the TFG said in a press conference that TFG and AMISOM troops have taken over more bases from al Shabaab.[10]
  • A Hizb al Islam faction led by Sheikh Yussuf Mohamed Siyad Indho Adde has declared its allegiance to the TFG.  Spokesman of this faction Abdikadir Abdullah said, “Lately there was perplexity about who we are really are but today we hereby declare that we are party of the Somali transitional federal government in all sort of support be fighting against the al Qaeda proxy who have called themselves al Shabaab and their ally Hizb al Islam.”[11]
  • One Horn Relief aid worker was killed and two more were injured in an attack by unknown gunmen in Puntland.  The attackers stole $30,000 from Horn Relief and Qaran Express Bank following the attack.[12]
  • Head of the anti-piracy program at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Alan Cole is glad that a new anti-piracy force is being created in Puntland but is wary that the force is being funded by a Muslim nation that insists on keeping its identity a secret.  Cole says he wants to know what laws the force is operating under, how its recruits are being selected, and who is in charge, saying “those who are providing equipment have a responsibility to make sure those who are going to use it understand the limits of their authority and are properly trained.”[13]
  • Five Somali pirates who hijacked a South African yacht on November 7 will be tried by Dutch prosecutors.  According to the statement, “The five Somalis are being prosecuted because there is an allegation of a successful act of marine robbery with victims and there is enough evidence against the suspects.”[14]
  • A Bangladeshi ship has been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea.  The ship was carrying nickel ore from Singapore to Europe and has 25 Bangladeshis on board.[15]
  • Puntland’s parliament has passed a new law saying that Puntland authorities can confiscate all pirate belongings and can refuse bail for captured pirates.[16]

[1] “Yemen Loses in Soccer, but Scores a P.R. Victory,” New York Times, December 5, 2010. Available:
[2] “Yemen Seeks Greater Aid to Expand Antiterror Fight,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2010. Available:
[3] “AQAP Claims Killing Houthi Spiritual Leader, Bombing Funeral,” SITE Intel Group, December 3, 2010. Available at SITE.
[4] “Parliament to Summon Deputy Prime Minster after Revelations,” Yemen Post, December 5, 2010. Available:
[5] “Wikileaks Files Reveal Secret US-Yemen Bomb Deal,” BBC News, December 4, 2010. Available:
[6] “Five Qaeda Suspects Surrender in South,” Yemen Post, December 5, 2010. Available:
[7] “Main Challenge Facing Yemen is the Economy: FM,” AFP, December 5, 2010. Available:
[8] “SoCal Man Charged in Somali Terror Case,” AP, December 3, 2010. Available:
[9] “Traditional Elders, We Call for AMISOM Troops to Stop Shelling,” Mareeg Online, December 6, 2010. Available:
[10] “Al-Shabab Claims Victory Over Latest Clashes in North Mogadishu,” Mareeg Online, December 5, 2010. Available: “Somalia: 22 Killed, 35 Wounded in Two Days of Mogadishu Clashes,” Garowe Online, December 5, 2010. Available:
[11] “Somali: Hizbul Islam Fighters Join Somali Government,” Somaliweyn, December 4, 2010. Available:
[12] “Somalia: Gunmen Kill NGO Aid Worker During Robbery,” All Headline News, December 5, 2010. Available:
[13] “UN Official Glad About New Somali Force but Wary,” AP, December 5, 2010. Available:
[14] “Dutch Prosecutors to Try 5 Alleged Somali Pirates,” AP, December 5, 2010. Available:
[15] “Pirates Hijack Cargo Ship with 25 People Off India,” AP, December 5, 2010. Available:
[16] “Somalia: Puntland Parliament Passes New Rule on Pirates,” Somaliweyn, December 5, 2010. Available:
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