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: U.S. intelligence officials tell House committee that AQAP is greatest threat to national security; gunmen rob pay courier en route to military headquarters in Habilain; four people injured during Southern Movement protest in Aden; WikiLeaks cables reveal that Yemen detained terrorist suspects illegally in exchange for American aid; opposition leader accuses government of using tribal dispute as a distraction from protests; relative of executed intelligence officer claims he is still alive
Horn of Africa: U.S. intelligence officials warn that Western fighters training with al Shabaab remain a “significant concern”; skirmish between AMISOM and TFG soldiers and al Shabaab militants leaves three people dead; unknown attackers kill three TFG soldiers in two separate grenade attacks at Mogadishu checkpoints; friendly fire between TFG soldiers leaves one soldier dead; Somaliland army deploys additional troops and vehicles following clash with tribal militias; Somali politician asks parliament to reconsider extension of its mandate; Puntland officials ask citizens for increased vigilance; MP says that national elections should be held in Somalia rather than abroad
Yemen Security Brief
- U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael E. Leiter testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security and identified al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and radical Yemeni-American ideologue Anwar al Awlaki, as “probably the most significant risk” facing the U.S. Leiter explained that the intelligence community sees Yemen “as a key battleground and regional base of operation from which AQAP can plan attacks, train recruits, and facilitate the movement of operatives,” adding that “AQAP remains intent on conducting additional attacks targeting the Homeland and U.S. interests overseas and will continue propaganda efforts designed to inspire like-minded individuals to conduct attacks in their home countries.”
- Unidentified gunmen stole an estimated three million Yemeni rials ($15,000) from a courier transporting the money to military headquarters in the town Habilain in Lahij governorate. Eyewitnesses told the Yemen Post that there were no casualties and the robbers fled before they could be apprehended.
- Security forces injured at least four people during a Southern Movement protest in the Mansora district of Aden. Police fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse demonstrators after protestors blocked several streets and set tires on fire in an effort to prevent police from arresting several political activists thought to be organizers of an upcoming “Day of Rage” protest.
- A December 2004 cable released by WikiLeaks revealed that Yemeni security forces continued to detain 28 Yemenis “based on U.S. government objections,” despite President Saleh acknowledging that “there was no evidence they were involved in terrorist acts.” In exchange for the continued imprisonment, Saleh pressured the U.S. for additional aid and F-5 aircraft parts. A separate cable revealed U.S. concerns over “rampant official corruption” and “Yemen’s dangerous small arms and light weapons proliferation.”
- Hamid al Ahmar, a prominent Islah opposition party figure and sheikh from the Hashid tribe, accused the government of inflaming his disagreement with Sana’a governor No’man Dowaid, arguing that “the state wants to keep me and others who stand against injustice busy with irrelevant issues rather than focusing on important political issues.” Political analyst Abdullah al Faqeeh agreed, telling the Yemen Times that “the current regime is in crisis and it intends to create more political confusion by instigating tribal conflicts.” The Ministry of Interior has opened an investigation into the dispute.
- Dr. Saleh Sumae, a professor of politics at Sana’a University, told the Yemen Times that he is “one hundred percent sure” that Ali Mohammed Salah al Hussam, a Yemeni intelligence officer allegedly recently executed by AQAP, is still alive. Sumae claims that the supposed execution tape released by AQAP February 1, which does not show Hussam’s corpse, is a reproduction of an earlier film, and lamented that “this kind of news is a manifestation of the present chaos in the country. It is sorrowful that no one checks for accuracy today.” Sumae is a relative of Hussam.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- In her testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Secretary Napolitano warned that al Shabaab places a “growing emphasis on recruiting individuals who are either Westerners or have connections to the West, but who do not have strong links to terrorist groups, and are thus more difficult for authorities to identify.” Director Leiter added that “the potential for Somali trainees to return to the United States or locations in the West to launch attacks and threaten Western interests remains a significant concern.”
- Three people were killed in firefights between AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers and al Shabaab militants. Locals told Shabelle Media Network that the fighting began when al Shabaab fighters attacked TFG and AMISOM bases in the Hodan and Hawl Wadag districts of Mogadishu.
- Unknown attackers carried out two grenade attacks against TFG checkpoints in Mogadishu, killing at least two people. Shabelle Media Network reported that one TFG soldier was killed while manning a checkpoint in the Dabakayo Madow neighborhood of Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district and despite widespread searches, the assailants remains at large. Mareeg reported that a similar attack took place at Bula-hubey village in the Wadajir district and killed one TFG soldier.
- A group of TFG soldiers fired on a patrol of their comrades in the Hamar Weyne district of Mogadishu, leaving one TFG soldier dead.
- The Somaliland army deployed hundreds of armored vehicles and soldiers to the Sool region in response to a February 7 clash between clan militias loyal to the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) administration and Somaliland soldiers in the village of Kalshale. The Somaliland Press reported that the Puntland administration supports the SSC militias in hopes of destabilizing Somaliland.
- Isma’il Mo’allim Muse, chairman of Somalia’s national reconciliation committee, told Shabelle Media Network that the TFG parliament should respect the wishes of the Somali people and reconsider their decision to extend their mandate by three years.
- Hussein Mohammed Ali, chairman of Galkayo’s committee for security, spoke to the press following a meeting of Puntland officials and said that every citizen in Puntland, but particularly the town of Galkayo, which has seen multiple officials assassinated recently, needed to exercise vigilance and help the security forces keep order.
- Somali MP Hassan Abshir Farah told Shabelle Media Network that the TFG parliament would seek to hold national elections in Somalia rather than abroad, claiming that conferences held internationally allowed other nations to benefit financially from Somalia’s plight.