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: Bomb detonates prematurely in metal factory in Sana’a; two people driving a car laden with explosives arrested in Aden; French Red Cross worker abducted in April released; Salafis officially declare political party; Interior Ministry sacks security director for failing to properly investigate the July 11 suicide bombing in Sana’a; Yemeni interior minister meets with EU counterterrorism coordinator; WFP executive director visits Yemen to oversee the agency’s expansion
Horn of Africa: Car bomb kills former affairs and trade minister in Mogadishu; bomb detonates in a Baidoa coffee shop targeting Somali soldiers and officials; al Shabaab kills a boy in Elbur; Kenyan air raids target rebel camps and kill al Shabaab militants in Gedo region; a roadside bomb targets Somali government soldiers; abducted French intelligence agent is reportedly alive; Somali police investigate al Shabaab’s responsibility for recent murders of Ethiopian Christians in South Africa; al Shabaab militants burn truck carrying qat and capture the traders; joint government forces arrest 89 al Shabaab-linked terrorists during several night raids in Mogadishu; U.S. citizen linked to al Shabaab reaches a plea hearing scheduled for July 20; three al Shabaab militants surrender to TFG forces in Lower Jubba
Yemen Security Brief
- A Yemeni security official reported that a suspected al Qaeda-linked militant was killed when a bomb he was preparing in a metal factory detonated prematurely in Sana’a on July 15. Another person was injured in the explosion.
- Two people driving a car rigged with explosives in Aden were arrested by security forces on July 15, a Yemeni security official said. A third suspect managed to flee the scene.
- A French Red Cross worker, Benjamin Malbrancke, who was kidnapped by gunmen in al Hudaydah on April 21, was released on July 12, according to Yemeni government official. The official added that Malbrancke was transferred to the Red Cross headquarters in Sana’a and will be flying back to France as soon as possible. Madad News Agency reported that Ansar al Sharia helped free Malbrancke on its Facebook page on July 15, which also featured pictures of the Frenchman. An Ansar al Sharia spokesman said, “We had helped in releasing him because he works as part of an aid organization that has not been proven to be doing any action in violation of the areas that we are managing... and there was a fatwa that was issued about not attacking people of this type - in more than one situation - and who committed no action that is against Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s [ruling], may Allah release him.”
- Yemeni Salafis officially declared the formation of a political party, al Rashad, on July 15. The party was informally established in March 2012, but internal disagreements postponed its official declaration. The party is headed by Mohammad al Amiri. Yemeni Information Minister Ali al Amrani, parliamentarians, and other party members attended the inauguration ceremony in Sana’a on July 15.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry dismissed the head of the Investigation Department in Sana’a, Gen. Rizq al Jawfi, on July 11. A police officer said that Jawfi was fired for failing to properly investigate the suicide bombing that killed at least 12 new army recruits in Sana’a on July 11.
- Yemeni Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Abdul Qadir Qahtan met with EU counterterrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove in Sana’a to discuss ways to continue to combat terrorism in Yemen.
- World Food Program (WFP) Executive Ramiro Lopes da Silva began a four-day trip to Yemen on July 14 to monitor the program’s expansion to address the ongoing hunger crisis. Lopes da Silva will meet with government representatives, donors, and members of the humanitarian community to assess the impact of WFP’s decision to ramp up efforts in Yemen.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A car bomb killed former minister for humanitarian affairs and trade Mohamed Abdi Ibrahim Garweyne and injured several civilians in Mogadishu. Spokesman for al Shabaab's military operations, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus’ab, reported that the former MP was the intended target and that the government officials who work alongside Garweyne are “infidels.”
- A bomb detonated after armed militants attacked a coffee shop frequented by Somali government soldiers and officials in Baidoa town on July 15. No deaths were reported.
- Local witnesses reported that al Shabaab militants shot a young man connected with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) and Ethiopian troops in Elbur town in Galgudud region. The man, Farah Mohamed Wehliye, aged between 20 and 23, was the son of a former district commissioner.
- Governor of Gedo region Mohamed Abdi Kalil told Shabelle Media Network that Kenyan air raids on rebel camps killed at least 18 al Shabaab members on July 13. Kalil confirmed the Kenyan fighter jets targeted militant training bases in Birta Dheer, south of Garbaharey town.
- A roadside bomb killed a civilian when it detonated near a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) convoy in Huriwaa district in Mogadishu on July 14. No one has claimed responsibility for this attack.
- French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian reported to Xinhua Net that French intelligence agent Denis Allex, who was taken hostage three years ago, is still alive. He reported that there was new proof confirming his status. An Ahlu Sunna official reported that Allex converted to Islam. ASWJ’s “security boss” Abdi Hassan Mohamed said that after Allex’s alias after his conversion to Islam is now Abu Omar. Allex reportedly lives in Januni, north of Elbur town, where he runs a militant training camp.
- Somali police investigated new evidence that al Shabaab is responsible for the murders of 14 Ethiopian Christians in South Africa.
- Al Shabaab militants reportedly burned trucks carrying bags of qat heading toward Kismayo on July 14. The militants took the qat traders into custody.
- TFG, Somali National Security Agency, and Somali National Army arrested a total of 89 al Shabaab terrorist suspects in a series of night raids conducted in Mogadishu. They cordoned off suspected hideouts in several neighborhoods.
- A U.S. citizen, Shaker Masri, who allegedly sought to become a suicide bomber for al Shabaab, reached a plea deal in U.S. District Court in Chicago scheduled for July 20. Masri's lawyer, Thomas Durkin, told a judge they had worked out a plea agreement, and that Masri would change his not guilty plea to guilty, although it is unclear what charges would be included in the guilty plea.
- Three suspected al Shabaab militants defected to TFG forces and surrendered their weapons in Hosingow and Afmadow in Lower Jubba region. A government official in Afmadow, Mohamed Abdullahi, reported that the men will be transported to Dhobley town to attend a rehabilitation camp for defected militants.