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. and British embassies in Yemen to remain closed for second day; al Houthi rebels have welcomed ceasefire conditions; Yemeni government tightens security after al Shabaab’s statement; Yemeni families flee following rumors of security operation against al Qaeda in Dhaleh province

Horn of Africa: Sheikh Mukhtar Ali Abu Mansur declared al Shabaab fighters would join al Qaeda in Yemen; al Shabaab attacks World Food Program after deadline passes; Somali Defense Minister accuses Yemeni rebels of supporting al Shabaab; clashes in Dhusa Mareb in Galgudud leave at least forty-seven people dead; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a form parliament in Abudwaq; Danish-Somali man who attacked Danish cartoonist received praise from al Shabaab and was previously arrested in Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. and Britain have closed their embassies for a second straight day in Yemen over security concerns.  The U.S. cites threats from al Qaeda and indications of an attacked planned on foreign targets in Sana’a.  Reportedly, the embassies closed after Yemeni security forces “lost track” of six trucks full of arms and explosives. Other embassies, such as those of France, Germany, and Japan closed today.  Spain has restricted access to its compound and limited services in efforts to increase security against potential attacks.[1]

  • Yemeni security forces killed two suspected al Qaeda militants and wounded others in a gunfight in Arhab, north of Sana’a.  Reportedly, the security forces were tracking Nazi al Hanq, suspected to be a member of al Qaeda, when they came under fire from al Hanq’s body guards.  Al Hanq is said to have escaped.[2]

  • The al Houthi rebels have reportedly welcomed President Saleh’s call for a ceasefire, saying it was a positive step.  Mohamed Abdul Salam, a spokesman said that the rebels had accepted the conditions for the ceasefire providing that military operations against the group be terminated.[3]

  • The government has tightened security along the coast following an announcement by al Shabaab in Somalia that its fighters would support al Qaeda in Yemen.  In a statement, Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi criticized al Shabaab for exporting terrorism and added that the group should concentrate on establishing stability within its own country.  Addressing this new security concern, he said, “Yemen never accepts terrorists and jihadist militants on it soil and it can deal with the existence of any of them.”[4]

  • Yemeni families are reportedly fleeing from the Habeel Jubari district in Dhale province because of rumors of an imminent security operation against al Qaeda.  Increased levels of violence may also be contributing to the families’ flight.  Over the past week, a government compound in Sanah was attacked by unidentified men with rocket-propelled grenades.  Additionally, there have been clashes between security forces and opposition forces at checkpoints and military posts.  Some blame this on the reemergence of the Hatm Movement, which is an armed anti-government group.  The Southern Movement denies any ties to the group.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Sheikh Mukhtar Rubow Ali Abu Mansur declared that al Shabaab would send fighters to Yemen to join the al Qaeda insurgency against the Yemeni government.  “We will cross the water between us and fight alongside with you against the enemy of Allah, be patient until we reach you brothers,” he said in an address to hundreds of newly trained fighter in Mogadishu.[6]

  • Al Shabaab fighters looted the World Food Program headquarters in Bu’aale, a town in the Lower Jubba region.  Eyewitnesses report that the fighters disarmed the contracted WFP guards and took equipment and money, about $50,000, from the compound, before ordering its closure and telling staffers to vacate.  In Merka, a port-city 90 km south of Mogadishu, al Shabaab burned foodstuffs from the WFP warehouses.  The fighters were enforcing an ultimatum that gave the WFP one month to empty its warehouses in al Shabaab-controlled areas.[7]

  • The Somali Defense Minister, Sheikh Yusuf Mohammad Siad, also known as Indha Adde, has accused Yemeni rebels of arming al Shabaab fighters.  Siad noted that two boats with military logistics equipment, light weapons, Kalashnikovs, ammunition, and hand grenades, docked in the port of Kismayo, which al Shabaab controls.[8]

  • Militias loyal to Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a recaptured the town of Dhusa Mareb, the capital of Galgudud.  Al Shabaab had attacked the town on Saturday and the heavy fighting that followed left at least forty-seven people dead and injured around one hundred others.  Sheikh Ahmed Abdullahi, a top Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a official, said that the group would postpone a scheduled conference in Abudwaq in order to concentrate on fighting al Shabaab in Galgudud.[9]

  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a formed a forty-one member parliament in the town of Abudwaq in central Somalia.  Sheikh Abdulkadir Aden is the Speaker of the Parliament and Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi Mohamed is the First Deputy Speaker.[10]

  • The 28-year-old Danish-Somali man who attacked Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist whose 2005 drawing of the Prophet Muhammad sparked violent protests, was charged with attempted manslaughter.  Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, an al Shabaab spokesman, told AFP, “We appreciate the incident in which a Muslim Somali boy attacked the devil who abused our Prophet Mohammed and we call upon all Muslims around the world to target people like him.”  The man had previously been arrested in Kenya on suspicions of connections to terrorists five days before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Nairobi.  He was released due to lack of evidence against him.  Reportedly, the man had close links to al Shabaab and to al Qaeda leaders in East Africa.[11]

[1] “U.S., British Embassies in Yemen Extend Closure,” Reuters, January 4, 2010.  Available:
“More Embassies Halt Service in Yemen Amid Terror Threat,” CNN, January 4, 2010.  Available:
“Yemeni Forces Kill 2 Qaeda Militants,” New York Times, January 4, 2010.  Available:
“Embassies Shut After ‘Yemen Lost Track of Arms Trucks,’” BBC, January 4, 2010.  Available:
[2] “Yemeni Forces Kill 2 Qaeda Militants,” New York Times, January 4, 2010.  Available:
[3] “Houthi Says Saleh Peace Call Positive, Accepts Ceasefire Conditions,” Yemen Post, January 3, 2010.  Available:
“Al-Houthi Rebels Ready to Abide by the State’s Conditions,” Yemen Observer, January 2, 2010.  Available:
[4] “Tight Security in Yemen After al Shabaab Statement,” Yemen Post, January 2, 2010.  Available:
“Yemen Says Will Not Tolerate ‘Terrorist’ Groups,” Reuters, January 2, 2010.  Available:
“Strict Measures After al-Shabaab Vow,” Saba Net, January 2, 2010.  Available:
[5] “Families Flee Dhale; Terror Operation Expected,” Yemen Post, January 1, 2010.  Available:
[6] “Al Shabaab Says They Will Send Fighters to Yemen,” Mareeg Online, January 1, 2010.  Available:
“Hundreds of al-Shabaab Fighters Finish Training,” Garowe Online, January 2, 2010.  Available:
[7] “Al-Shabaab Loots WFP Office in Southern Somalia,” Garowe Online, January 3, 2010.  Available:
[8] “Somali Government Says al-Shabaab Received Arms from Yemen,” Garowe Online, January 3, 2010.  Available:
[9] “Ahlu-Sunna Recapture Strategic Town,” Garowe Online, January 3, 2010.  Available:
 “Death Toll in Central Somalia Fighting Rises to 47,” Reuters, January 3, 2010.  Available:
[10] “Islamists Form Parliament,” Mareeg Online, January 1, 2010.  Available:
[11] “Somali Axeman ‘Was Held in Kenya.’” BBC, January 4, 2010.  Available:
“Somali Charged Over Attack on Danish Cartoonist,” BBC, January 2, 2010.  Available:
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