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: Airstrike in Zinjibar reportedly kills five al Qaeda-linked militants; tribesmen attack army unit in Arhab; security forces fire on protestors in several governorates; jihadist releases message on military developments in Zinjibar; Yemeni foreign minister says President Saleh will only transfer power through elections
Horn of Africa: Somali government forces launch offensive in Mogadishu; UN says al Shabaab has intricate network in Kenya; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a conducts surprise attack against al Shabaab in central Somalia; Kenyan police arrest twenty Somalis in connection with roadside bomb attack
Yemen Security Brief
- Local sources in Aden report that an airstrike in Wadi Hassan district of Zinjibar killed an al Qaeda leader and four other militants. The names of the dead have not been released.
- Tribesmen attacked the 3rd Mountain Infantry Brigade in Arhab district in Sana’a. At least one soldier and eight tribesmen were killed. Yemen’s defense ministry accused a defected army unit of assisting the tribesmen.
- Yemeni security forces fired on anti-government protestors in Ibb governorate, injuring at least seven people. Clashes between police and protestors also left several people injured in Taiz, Aden and al Bayda governorates.
- A Yemeni jihadist posted a message about recent military developments in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. The message stated that al Qaeda-linked militants defeated a military brigade sent into Zinjibar to relieve the besieged 25th mechanized brigade. The jihadist said a “large number of soldiers were killed and injured, and a large number of armored vehicles were destroyed and burned.” The message claims that Mahdi Maqula, commander of the relief force, was injured and “transferred to Basahib military hospital in Aden.”
- Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi told Reuters that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will only transfer power through elections. He said, “President Saleh made this very clear. He repeatedly said he is ready to transfer power anytime, but through early elections, through the ballot box and by adhering to the constitution…Now the issue is for the ruling party and the opposition parties to agree on a date for early elections…The president is not scrapping the agreement. It is just the timetable for the implementation that need[s] to be readdressed…The solution has to be a political and it has to be a Yemeni solution…The political crisis creates the right atmosphere for extremists and for al Qaeda to take advantage of…I think the majority of people neither want civil war nor to see Yemen divided again, but this will depend really on wisdom prevailing amongst policymakers on both sides -- on the government side and the opposition side.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Somali government troops and AMISOM forces launched an attack on al Shabaab strongholds in northern Mogadishu, reportedly killing 15 militants and injuring others. Eyewitnesses said that government forces seized control of Bakara market, Soddonka street and the Bar Ubah junction. Other witnesses said AMISOM soldiers and tanks have exchanged heavy fire with al Shabaab militants in Suqbacad area. President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed ordered the offensive to expand areas in which international aid organizations can deliver aid. The offensive comes a day after the UN World Food Programme airlifted ten tonnes of food into Mogadishu.
- The report of the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group indicates that al Shabaab has “extensive funding, recruiting and training networks within neighboring Kenya” and has “established connections with jihadist groups across the continent.” A UN investigation focused on the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) in Nairobi, Kenya, which revealed that the seemingly innocuous organization actively recruits al Shabaab operatives. The report said, “Officially, the MYC Constitution defines the group as a 'community based-organisation' that aims to provide youth with religious counselling ... In practice, members of the group openly engage in recruiting for al Shabaab in Kenya and facilitate travel to Somalia for individuals to train and fight for 'jihad' in Somalia.” MYC chairman Ahmad Iman Ali operates at the helm of recruitment efforts. The report said, “Ahmed Iman's success in recruiting fighters and mobilizing funds for the cause, appear to have earned him steady ascendancy within al Shabaab. The Monitoring Group believes that he now intends to conduct large-scale attacks in Kenya, and possibly elsewhere in East Africa.” MYC also publishes a weekly newsletter in support of al Shabaab, and has organized “secret jihad training sessions” for youth at a mosque in Kawangware district of Nairobi. The report also accuses Eritrea of funneling money to al Shabaab through its embassy in Kenya, and plotting an attack on an African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2011.
- Fighters from Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a conducted a surprise attack against al Shabaab forces in central Somalia, reportedly killing and wounding several top commanders. Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a spokesman Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abdurrahman said fighters conducted operations in the villages of Warholo and El-god in Galgugud region. The attack killed nine al Shabaab fighters, including a top commander and the regional “head of information.” Sheikh Yusuf Sheikh Isse, al Shabaab’s chairman in Galgugud region, was wounded in the attack. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Isse died several hours later. The Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a administration announced that it will launch more offensives against al Shabaab in central Somalia.
- Kenyan police arrested twenty Somalis suspected of involvement in a roadside bomb attack near the Kenya-Somalia border. Unnamed sources said a majority of the suspects were businessmen from Mandera district. Mohamed Abdi Kalil, Somali governor of Gedo region, accused al Shabaab of the attack. His administration has arrested several suspects.
David Clarke, “Eritrea behind AU summit attack plot: UN report,” Reuters, July 28, 2011. Available: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE76R0AS20110728