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: Suicide car bombing kills 26 Republican Guard troops in al Mukalla; Hadi becomes new president of Yemen; Saleh reportedly will seek exile in Ethiopia; Obama administration lays out new counterterrorism strategy in Yemen; five al Qaeda-linked militants and one Yemeni soldier killed in Zinjibar fighting; a bomb targeting Islah Party’s Taiz headquarters wounds four people; two soldiers killed and five wounded during clash with armed protesters in Aden
Horn of Africa: Ahlu Sunna reportedly kill senior al Shabaab member; Kenyan and TFG troops clash with al Shabaab in Kolbio; TFG and al Shabaab clash in Gedweyne in Gedo region; militia from the Golis Mountains declares its allegiance to al Shabaab; fighting between TFG and al Shabaab kills three people in Qoqani; al Shabaab launches an attack against TFG posts in Mogadishu; jihadist gives eulogy for Moroccan killed in Somalia; al Shabaab releases a video with emotional plea from Kenyan captive
Yemen Security Brief
- A suicide car bombing killed 26 Republican Guard troops outside of the presidential palace in al Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt governorate. It occurred on February 25 while Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi was taking the oath as president in Sana’a. Yemeni authorities accused al Qaeda of being behind the attack, and even offered a name for the bomber: Mohammed al Sayari, a Saudi.
- Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi took the oath of office as the new president of the Republic of Yemen on February 25. Hadi vowed to “preserve the country’s unity, independence and territorial integrity” and to continue the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In a ceremony at the presidential palace on February 27, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh formally handed over power to Hadi. Saleh offered his congratulations to Hadi, and at the end of the meeting he symbolically presented a Yemeni flag to Hadi.
- The Obama administration announced its counterterrorism strategy vis-à-vis Yemen, which consists of working with Yemen to capture about two dozen of the most senior al Qaeda operatives in the country, as well as working with Gulf allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, in training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism to weaken AQAP. “We’re trying to ensure that the aid is very tailored, so it goes to those units that are professional, that fall within a command and control structure that reports to Hadi, that are addressing Al Qaeda and domestic threats to Yemen, and are not engaged in any political shenanigans,” said John O. Brennan, the U.S. deputy national security adviser.
- At least five al Qaeda-linked militants were killed in heavy shelling in Zinjibar beginning on the night of February 25 and going into February 26. One Yemen soldier was killed when he stopped on a landmine.
- A bomb blast near the Islah Party’s Taiz headquarters wounded four people, according to local medical sources. It is not known who was behind the attack.
- Two soldiers were killed and five other wounded during clashes on February 25 with armed men in Aden’s al Mansoura district. The soldiers were attempting to break up a sit-in when they were fired upon by a group of men.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Mohammed Moallin Hussein, a top official of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ), reported that a senior al Shabaab commander, identified only as Farah, was killed in Godon near Dhusamareb on February 27.
- Kenyan and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops clashed with al Shabaab militants in Kolbio near Badhadhe in Lower Jubba region on February 27. Al Shabaab reportedly attacked a convoy but failed to detonate a landmine. Al Shabaab claimed that seven TFG soldiers were killed in the attack.
- Fighting erupted between TFG troops and al Shabaab militants in Gedweyne, located between Luq and Dhobley in Gedo region, on February 25. Al Shabaab reported using mortars and machine guns. A TFG official denied that al Shabaab militants inflicted any damage on the base.
- Leader of a militia from the Golis Mountains Yasin Khalid Osman, also known as Yasin Kilwe, declared his group’s allegiance to al Shabaab in a statement on a pro-al Shabaab radio station on February 26. He stated, “I Yasin Khalid Osman leader of the Golis Mountain range have pledged my allegiance to leader of the al Shabaab Sheikh Mukhtar Ali [Zubair].” Spokesman for al Shabaab Sheikh Ali Rage released a recording accepting the pledge. Mohamed Said Atom, who led the militia, which is also known as the Galgala militia, has maintained connections to al Shabaab.
- Clashes between TFG soldiers and al Shabaab militants in Qoqani on February 25 killed at least three people. Residents reported the use of machine guns and heavy artillery.
- Al Shabaab launched an attack using large and small arms on February 25 against TFG posts in Yaqshid and Hodan districts in Mogadishu. The number of dead and injured has yet to surface.
- A jihadist gave a eulogy for the Moroccan al Shabaab fighter Hassan al Toor, also known as Abu Ibrahim, in a video released on jihadist forums on February 24. Toor was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike 60 kilometers south of Mogadishu on February 24.
- Al Shabaab’s media wing al Kata’ib Media Foundation released a video showing Kenyan captive Mule Edward Yesse on jihadist forums on February 23. Yesse was abducted in an al Shabaab raid on a police station in Wajir district in Kenya on January 12. In the video, Yesse calls on the Kenyan government to cease military operations.