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: Yemeni airstrikes kill at least five Ansar al Sharia militants in Abyan; security official assassinated in Hadramawt; GCC commends Yemen’s security apparatus for dismantling Iran’s spy ring; Saudi embassy reopens in Yemen, Ansar al Sharia prepares release of Saudi diplomat Abdullah al Khalidi; Yemeni police arrest at least 100 Somali nationals allegedly supporting al Qaeda-linked militants
Horn of Africa: Roadside bomb kills three TFG soldiers in Bal’ad; al Shabaab militants ambush ASWJ army bases in Gedo region; armed gangs kill two herders in northern Kenya; The UN Monitoring Group reports reduced Eritrean support to al Shabaab; Puntland police forces intercept boatloads of weapons and explosives smuggled in from Yemen; two Iranians charged with bomb possession plead “not guilty” in Nairobi court; White House officials issue an executive order protecting Somali political transitions; ASWJ reports that al Shabaab leaders are recruiting support and militancy in Galgudud region
Yemen Security Brief
- A Yemeni security official reported that the Yemeni Air Force carried out airstrikes targeting Ansar al Sharia militants in al Mahfad district in Abyan governorate late on July 23. Five militants were killed in the attack. Witnesses said that militants were seen moving military equipment into trucks and congregating in the area.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry said that two unknown gunmen shot and killed a security official in al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate. The assailants managed to flee the scene. Two days earlier, Col. Yahya al Rusaishan, the commander of the 190th Air Defense Brigade, escaped an assassination attempt near al Mukalla.
- The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) commended Yemen’s security apparatus on July 23 for dismantling Iran’s alleged spy ring in Yemen. Secretary General of the GCC Abdul Latif al Zayani said that the six-nation council “fully backs Yemen in all the measures it undertakes to reinforce stability and security.” Tehran continues to deny claims of conducting espionage activities in Yemen.
- Yemeni state news agency SABA Net reported that the Saudi embassy in Yemen reopened in Sana’a. The embassy originally closed in protest to the abduction of Saudi diplomat Abdullah al Khalidi on March 28 in Aden. A tribal source said that Ansar al Sharia agreed to release Khalidi on July 23 after months of reported mediation efforts. The source added that Ansar al Sharia expects a ransom of $10 million to be paid in order to secure his release.
- Yemeni police arrested at least 100 Somali nationals suspected of being al Qaeda-linked militant supporters in Shabwah and Abyan governorates. According to Somalia’s deputy consul in Aden, Hussein Hajji Ahmed, the nationals will be taken to jails in Aden.
Horn of Africa Security Review
- Roadside bomb injured at least three Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers while they drove through Bal’ad district Mogadishu on July 23. Their truck was mounted with anti-aircraft guns. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Al Shabaab launched an overnight ambush targeting Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) bases while the troops patrolled villages in Gedo region. Local residents reported that the militants were armed with machine-guns and rocked propelled grenades (RPGs).
- Armed gangs killed two herders in Mandera district in northeastern Kenya on July 23. The heavily armed men reportedly crossed the Ethiopian border into Kenya.
- The UN Monitoring Group dismissed allegations that Eritrea provides direct support to al Shabaab after the Council imposed an embargo on Eritrea in 2009. The report attributed the decline of al Shabaab to friction between terrorist leaders and the Eritrean regime, military setbacks of al Shabaab, and an increase in international scrutiny of the Eritrean regime. However, the United Nations Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (UNSEMG) report confirmed that Eritrea continues to violate U.N resolutions 1844 and 1907 via deploying rebel groups, smuggling weapons, and coercing its citizens to corrupt taxation.
- Puntland police forces intercepted boats going from Yemen to Somalia filled with weapons and explosives in the Bari region on July 20. The confiscated materials consisted of: one speedboat with two motors, one sack of TNT explosives powder, two sacks full of wires, fuses and switches, and five pistols.
- The two Iranians accused of possessing bomb explosives denied all charges held against them in Nairobi Court on July 23. Both Ahmad Mohamed and Saeed Mousavi posted a cash bail last week of $24,000 and a surety of $60,000 each.
- The White House issued an executive order granting the Department of Treasury power to impose sanctions on those misappropriating state assets in Somalia. The order targets military leaders who recruit children, those committing violence against Somali citizens, and imposes sanctions on those importing or exporting charcoal in violation of a UN ban.
- ASWJ highlighted the presence of al Shabaab leaders in Galgudud in order to recruit militancy and support. ASWJ official Abdi Hassan Mohamed reported al Shabaab’s Mukhtar Robow Ali (Abu Mansur), Ali Mohamoud Rage and other senior militant leaders held talks with local elders.