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: AQAP publishes winter issue of its English-language magazine; suspected AQAP militants assassinate top security official; Yemeni court sentences murderer to death and Anwar al Awlaki to ten years in killing of Frenchman; fighting between al Houthi gunmen and tribesmen in Sa’ada kills one; one woman killed and seven civilians injured in clashes between army and Southern Movement militants in Lahij governorate; security forces foil plot to kidnap Czech tourists; police arrest thirteen Southern Movement activists; five protestors arrested at pro-Tunisia rally
Horn of Africa: TFG executes three soldiers for murder; two executed bodies found in Mogadishu; five al Shabaab fighters arrested in Somaliland; al Shabaab claims credit for two attacks in Mogadishu; al Shabaab announces graduation of 130 preachers, punishment of thief; al Shabaab spokesman says 85 militants killed in latest round of fighting; mortar exchanges between AMISOM and al Shabaab kill over thirty in Mogadishu; al Shabaab arrests former Hizb al Islam spokesman; al Shabaab and businessmen discuss drought relief; al Shabaab militants kidnaps elderly Somali man; al Shabaab imposes currency restrictions; al Shabaab arrests women for violating clothing restrictions; TFG to regulate telecommunications industry; Puntland ends relations with TFG
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) published the winter issue of its online English-language magazine, Inspire, on January 16, 2011. Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al Awlaki authored the feature article in the magazine. The magazine provided the first in a series of lessons on the Kalashnikov rifle and outlined how to destroy a building. AQAP also outlined its three primary targets: the West, the regimes of the Arabian Peninsula, and the al Houthis.
- Suspected AQAP militants assassinated Colonel Atiq al Amri, a high-ranking security officer in the criminal investigation unit, according a Yemeni official. Gunmen armed with rifles attacked Amri and a soldier while they were walking in Shabwah governorate’s Azan district, killing the colonel and seriously wounding the soldier.
- A Yemeni court sentenced Hisham Muhammad Ahmed Asim to death for his role in the murder of a Frenchman last October. The court also sentenced radical AQAP cleric Anwar al Awlaki and his cousin, Othman al Awlaki, to ten and eight year prison terms in absentia, respectively, for forming an armed group to target foreigners. Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Shaea has also been convicted of aiding AQAP and was sentenced to five years in prison.
- One tribesman was killed and nine others wounded in skirmishes between al Houthi gunmen and tribesmen in the Rahaban district of Sa’ada governorate. Sheikh Othman Majali, a member of the Yemeni parliament, reported that fighting broke out when al Houthi rebels attacked members of the Abdin tribe.
- One woman was killed and seven civilians were injured in the town of Habilain in Lahij governorate during fighting between the military and Southern Movement militants. The army reported that four of its soldiers were wounded during the clashes. Sources suggest that the seven civilians were injured when police fired upon a protest in the town of Radfan in Lahij governorate. Sources report that the Yemeni army is in control of several villages.
- Yemen’s Interior Ministry announced that Yemeni security forces successfully foiled a plot to kidnap four Czech tourists in Haima, Sana’a governorate. Three armed men tried to abduct the tourists, but were chased away following an exchange of gunfire between the kidnappers and police.
- Police arrested at least thirteen Southern Movement activists, including local leader Abdulmagid Saeed Wahdin, in the city of Mukallah in Hadramawt governorate. The arrests occurred during a protest in commemoration of a woman who was run over by a police vehicle during a demonstration last Thursday.
- Police arrested at least five protestors during a rally in Sana’a province in support of events in Tunisia. The protest, which originated at the Sana’a University campus, marched to the Tunisian embassy and chanted anti-government slogans, including, “Liberty’s Tunisia, Sana’a salutes you a thousand times,” and encouraged Arabs to wage a “revolution against their scared and deceitful leaders.” The Yemeni Interior Ministry has encouraged security forces to treat demonstrators peacefully following similar demonstrations over the weekend in Sana’a province.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) executed three soldiers convicted of murder by a military court. The executions were carried out Mogadishu.
- The bodies of two men were found at Warshadaha Street in Mogadishu. Both men were between the ages of 45 and 50, and had died from gunshot wounds to the head.
- Five suspected members of al Shabaab were arrested in Burao, Somaliland. Locals reported that foreign soldiers carried out the arrests, adding that they appeared to be British or from another Western country. Somaliland’s administration has yet to comment on the incident.
- Al Shabaab issued a communiqué on January 14, 2011 on jihadist forums claiming responsibility for two attacks carried out in Mogadishu on January 13. One attack involved an explosive device in south Mogadishu that killed two soldiers. Al Shabaab claimed that following the blast, soldiers cordoned off the area and fired indiscriminately at civilians. The second attack involved a hand grenade tossed into a Somali military center, causing an unknown number of casualties.
- An al Shabaab communiqué issued January 16, 2011 announced the punishment of a thief and the graduation of 130 preachers from the Sheikh Abdullah Azzam Institute for Preachers in Mogadishu. The thief, Abdulrahman Muhammad Abdullah, was apprehended in the Lower Jubba region and had his hand amputated as punishment. He was convicted of stealing an AK-47 rifle, $1000 and 2 million Somali shillings. The sentence was carried out in Kismayo.
- Al Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, confirmed that over 85 al Shabaab militants have been killed over the past 24 hours in fighting in Mogadishu’s northern district. Rage added that an additional 280 militants have been sent to Mogadishu to launch new attacks on AMISOM and TFG positions.
- Mortars exchanged between al Shabaab and AMISOM forces killed at least four people in Mogadishu. The shelling began when al Shabaab bombarded the Somali parliament building, and AMISOM forces responded with mortars in the Hawl Wadag and Wardhigley districts. Sources report that several AMISOM shells fell into the Siiney and Bakara markets, killing over thirty civilians. Fighting also occurred in Hodan district. Locals reported that the fighting began when al Shabaab fighters launched hit and run attacks on military positions in the city.
- Fighters loyal to al Shabaab arrested Mohamed Osman Arus, the former spokesman of Hizb al Islam, in Mogadishu after he refused to accept a post as head of security for the Lower Shabelle region in the al Shabaab administration.
- Al Shabaab officials met with businessmen in the Bay and Bakool regions to discuss initiatives to aid Somali civilians affected by drought. The meeting took place in the town of Baidoa, and was highlighted by Sheikh Mahad Omar Abdikareem, al Shabaab’s chairman in the region, calling for businessmen to pay a monthly tax in support of the mujahideen’s efforts to drive out AMISOM forces.
- Al Shabaab militants in the Elbur district in Galgudud kidnapped Shire Diriye Osman, a prominent Somali man. The reasons behind the abduction are still unclear.
- Al Shabaab announced that businessmen in Beled Hawo in Gedo region must use Somali shillings instead of Kenyan shillings, which have been the accepted currency in the area for over nineteen years.
- Al Shabaab gunmen detained fifteen Somali women who they claimed were in violation of the appropriate dress code. The women, who were detained in the villages of Lafole and Elasha Biya, were accused of wearing light clothes through which their bodies could easily be seen.
- The TFG’s minister for information, posts, and telecommunications, Abdulkareem Jama, announced that the government will regulate and tax the telecommunications industry.
- Puntland, a semi-autonomous region, broke relations with the TFG, according to an official Puntland government statement. The TFG “does not represent Puntland in international forums” and Puntland calls on “the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) to reconsider its position and support for the TFG at the expense of other Somali stakeholders.”