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: Clashes between Southern Mobility Movement supporters and security forces, northerners across Hadramawt governorate; video of Austrian hostage Dominik Neubauer released on YouTube; Ibrahim al Rubaish releases audio recording; prominent jihadist Abdullah bin Mohammad releases statement on Twitter regarding Saudi attempts to split al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; President Hadi visits Aden and Abyan; hardline faction of Southern Movement releases statement declaring armed resistance against Yemeni government; security forces clash with Southern Movement in Aden; Southern Movement reporters attack Islah Party buildings in multiple governorates across southern Yemen; stores closed in Ataq, Shabwah governorate as a part of Southern Movement-encouraged civil disobedience; former Yemeni Vice President Ali Salem al Beidh calls for international intervention to protect populace of southern Yemen; al Qaeda allegedly releases statement condemning al Beidh and communist parties; al Mukalla Central Security commander survives assassination attempt; security director for Dhi Na’im district, al Bayda governorate assassinated; al Houthi militants storm school in al Safra’, Sa’ada governorate; tribesmen clash over land dispute in Amran governorate; 82nd Infantry Brigade soldiers killed in vehicular accident; Yemeni Army forces shell village in Wald Rab’ia, al Bayda governorate; UN Sanctions Committee team begins investigation of seized arms allegedly from Iran
Horn of Africa: Fighting erupts in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; Somali and AMISOM troops take Qardho, Jirada Kulow and Dardan, Bay region; unknown gunmen open fire on a restaurant in Galkayo, Mudug region; al Shabaab beheads a man in Duqaqe, Hiraan region; al Shabaab restricts the movement of those living in Elbur and Elder districts in the Galgudud region; Kenyan police say they captured a suspected terrorist behind the recent bombings in Garissa, Kenya; Puntland security forces arrest over 50 suspected terrorists during security operations; al Shabaab militant releases a 17-page document detailing disputes with Omar Hammami; al Kata’ib News Channel releases video of shrine destruction; al Shabaab spokesman says Kenyan army fueling clashes in Kismayo, Lower Jubba; anti-al Shabaab protests occur in Garowe, Nugaal region; al Shabaab militants are traveling to Mali to fight the French army; Somali prime minister meets with representatives from the European Union and England; four Somali-Americans are found guilty of providing financial assistance to al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Several cities in Hadramawt governorate witnessed clashes between Southern Mobility Movement (SMM) supporters and security forces, as well as the harassment of northern Yemenis from February 23-25. Security forces and SMM supporters clashed in al Mukalla, killing at least two on February 23. During clashes in Ghayl Ba Wazir SMM supporters used rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and medium machine guns against Central Security Forces and burned stores belonging to northerners in the city, killing one civilian, on February 23. One soldier was killed and three wounded in clashes with SMM members in Sayun. SMM gunmen burned down stores belonging to northerners and kidnapped four northerners in al Shihr on February 24. SMM supporters also demonstrated and harassed northerners in the city of al Qatan where three SMM supporters were killed in an accidental grenade detonation.
- A video of Austrian national Dominik Neubauer, one of the three Western hostages kidnapped in Sana’a on December 21, 2012, was released on YouTube on February 21. Neubauer appeared in good health, saying that he was being held by Yemeni tribes, and that if a ransom was not paid for his release by February 28, he would be killed.
- Al Malahem Media Foundation released an audio message from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) spiritual leader Sheikh Ibrahim al Rubaish entitled, “Who Pays the Price for the Arbitration of Sharia?”
- Prominent jihadist Abdullah bin Mohammad released a message on his Twitter account and on jihadi forums on February 16, claiming that Saudi Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef was attempting to split AQAP into Saudi and Yemeni factions after the death of AQAP deputy leader Said al Shihri. He argued that the AQAP organization is resilient because of the global nature of its network and alliances with various tribes across multiple Gulf countries.
- President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi visited Aden City and Abyan governorate on February 24, meeting with local political and security officials.
- A hardline faction of the SMM, calling themselves the “Popular Movement for the Liberation of the South,” announced the beginning of an armed struggle for the secession of southern Yemen, in a statement published in the Aden Post on February 24.
- Security forces clashed with SMM supporters in Aden on February 23, in an attempt to clear SMM supporters who were blocking roads in the city. Four were wounded, including one soldier, in the clashes.
- SMM supporters attacked Islah Party headquarters in locations throughout southern Yemen on February 23. SMM fighters threw a bomb at the Islah Party headquarters in Khormaksar, Aden. Other supporters attacked the Islah headquarters in al Mukalla, Hadramawt and in Rasd Yafa’a, Abyan. An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at the party headquarters in al Dhaleh city, al Dhaleh governorate.
- Residents of Ataq, Shabwah governorate closed stores in the city in an act of civil disobedience advocated by the SMM on February 24. It was also reported that five SMM supporters were detained by security forces in Shabwah on February 23.
- Former Yemeni Vice President Ali Salem al Beidh called on the international community to intervene to protect the people of southern Yemen on February 24.
- AQAP allegedly released a statement entitled, “Rejectionist Shiite Expansion in Hadramawt,” condemning the spread of Shiite forces in Hadramawt governorate through the sponsorship of communist political parties and former Vice President al Beidh.
- Colonel Abdul Wahab al Wa’ili, Central Security commander in al Mukalla, Hadramawt survived an assassination attempt on February 23, when his car was attacked in al Mukalla by anonymous gunmen. Three of his bodyguards were injured in the incident.
- Unknown gunmen assassinated Major Abdul Wali Saleh al Nahimi, security director for Dhi Na’im district, al Bayda governorate, and one of his bodyguards on February 24 in the Hayd al Samaa’ area of the district.
- Al Houthi militants, commanded by a man named Hadi Zarib Dageysh, stormed a school in al Safra’, Sa’ada governorate on February 23, wounding one teacher.
- Tribesmen in Amran governorate clashed over a land dispute on February 24. One tribesman was killed and five wounded in the incident.
- Seven soldiers of the 82nd Infantry Brigade were killed, including Colonel Mohammad ‘Adhieb, when their vehicle overturned during a military patrol in the al Salif area of al Hudaydah governorate.
- Yemeni Army forces based in the Tha’alib Mountain area shelled the town of Khabza, Wald Rab’ia, al Bayda governorate, wounding four civilians on February 23.
- A UN Sanctions Committee team began its investigation of arms seized from a ship in the Arabian Sea on January 23, 2013 purportedly from Iran on February 25.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Clashes erupted throughout Kismayo, Lower Jubba region on February 23. Armed militias from rival Ogadeni and Marehan clans fought after a clan elder was killed while being detained in a police station. Eleven people died and at least six civilians were injured. Somali government troops were deployed to stop the fighting and engaged the Ogadenis, fighting under the banner of the Ras Kamboni militia. Ras Kamboni troops repelled the Somali troops and maintained control over the central Kismayo police station. Three people were reportedly killed in the second skirmish. Somali Interior and National Security Minister Abdikarin Hussein Gulled traveled to Kismayo on February 25 in an effort to stabilize the city.
- Somali and AMISOM troops peacefully captured Qardho, Jirada Kulow, and Dardan, Bay region on February 23. Al Shabaab had previously controlled these towns but withdrew before the Somali and AMISOM forces arrived. These towns are situated on the main road connecting Baidoa, Bay region to Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region.
- Unknown gunmen opened fire on a restaurant in Galkayo, Mudug region on February 24. Five people were injured during the attack and the shooter was able to flee the scene. No group has claimed responsibility for the shooting.
- Al Shabaab militants beheaded a man in Duqaqe, Hiraan region on February 24. While his identity and the reason behind the beheading are unknown, residents believe that the man was a local doctor.
- Al Shabaab militants restricted the movement of civilians living in Elbur and Elder districts in Galgudud region on February 25. Al Shabaab imposed the restriction after hearing about plans to protest the group’s presence in the region.
- Kenyan police announced that they arrested a militant on February 23 who is suspected of being behind the terrorist attacks in Garissa, Kenya for the past few months.
- Puntland forces conducted security operations in Garowe, Galkayo, Boosaaso and Las Anod on February 24, capturing over 50 suspected terrorists.
- An alleged al Shabaab militant released a 17-page document on February 18, describing how American-born Omar Hammami is an incompetent commander and soldier and how Hammami’s controversy with al Shabaab is merely an attempt to make himself seem more important.
- Al Kata’ib News Channel posted a video of al Shabaab militants destroying shrines in the village of Balad al Karim, possibly in Lower Shabelle region.
- Al Shabaab leader in the Jubba region, Sheikh Hassan Yakub, announced on February 25, that the Kenyan army is fueling the fighting in Kismayo in order to create instability in the region.
- Tens of thousands of civilians in Garowe, Mudug region gathered in protest against al Shabaab on February 24. Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole joined the demonstration and spoke to the crowd of 20,000 people.
- Kulmiye News reported that al Shabaab militants traveled from Somalia to Mali in order to fight against the French Army stationed in Mali.
- Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon met with European Union Ambassador to Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso and British Ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh in Mogadishu on February 24.
- Four Somali-Americans were found guilty of supporting terrorism in Somalia by a San Diego jury on February 22. The four men raised $10,000 and transferred the money to the Somali terrorist group al Shabaab. Their sentencing hearing will be held on May 16.
- Indian officials say that they caught one Somali national and another man responsible for the February 21 bombing in Hyderabad, India that killed 16 people.