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 kills al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan governorate and accidentally kills ICRC employee; Yemeni officials prevent terrorist plan to attack foreign embassies in Sanaa; AQAP refers to the suicide attack on General Maj. Qatan as a warning for American-Yemeni campaign; U.S. may send military aircraft to Yemen
Horn of Africa: French al Qaeda militant arrested in May was reportedly en route to Somalia; militant gunned down in Beledweyne after grenade attack; two South Africans released from captivity after being kidnapped in October 2010; KDF worried about al Shabaab militants fleeing to Kenya; TFG arrests 20 in connection with al Shabaab in Afgoi; journalist wounded in landmine blast in Mogadishu; Somali cab driver in St. Louis sentenced to 13 years for providing aid to al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- An airstrike killed at least 30 al Qaeda-linked militants, including leaders from militant group, Ansar al Sharia. The strike targeted the terrorist leaders in al Mahfad district of Abyan governorate on June 20. Additionally, the strike accidentally killed International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) worker, Hussein Saleh.
- Yemeni officials deterred a terrorist plot to attack foreign embassies in Sana’a when they captured three suspects linked to the plan. Security officials claimed that the “three suspects armed with weapons, explosives and maps showing the location of foreign embassies” were detained. The plan allegedly intended to reclaim crucial territories and was in response to the uptick in airstrikes.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed the June 18 suicide attack in Aden that killed Major General Salem Qatan and referred to it in a communiqué issued on jihadist forums warning those who participate in the campaign against Ansar al Sharia. The group stated, “[It] is composed by the blood and body parts of the martyrdom-seekers who swore to pluck your rotten heads that accepted to be a vehicle for America in its war against the Muslims in Yemen.”
- Pentagon and United States officials may send military cargo aircraft to Yemen for quicker supply and troop movement during battle. Yemeni officials suggested the plan and American military planners are reviewing what would be required. It has not yet been approved.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Pakistani officials said that French al Qaeda militant Naamen Meziche linked to the September 11, 2001 attacks was likely heading toward Somalia when he was captured in May at the Iranian border. Western sources believe that Meziche was en route to Pakistan’s tribal belt, but another security source said, “Recently lots of Al-Qaeda people left Pakistan to move to Yemen or Somalia. The tribal belt is a very important place for jihadis on their way, because there they can get the support, logistics and contacts to move on.” Meziche is reportedly being interrogated by Pakistani, French, German, and American intelligence.
- Government military official in Beledweyne in Hiraan region Yusuf Hundubey said that a boy was gunned down after throwing grenades at Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers at their base.
- Somali Defense Minister Hussein Arab Isse reported that South African Deborah Calitz and Italian Bruno Pelizzari were freed from captivity in Somalia. The two were kidnapped on the southeast African coast in October 2010. Their pirate captors demanded a $10 million ransom; however, it is unclear whether or not the ransom was paid.
- Senior Kenya Defense Force (KDF) officials are worried that al Shabaab militants are fleeing to Dadaab refugee camp, Kunga, Kiwayu, and Lamu islands in Kenya. The growing concern comes amid other reports that suggest that senior al Shabaab officials and militants are fleeing Kismayo, al Shabaab’s coastal stronghold, in the direction of Yemen, ahead of a four-pronged joint assault planned for August.
- TFG soldiers reportedly carried out a search and arrest campaign in Afgoi after a grenade was lobbed at a school where the soldiers were stationed. Twenty suspected al Shabaab militants and sympathizers were arrested.
- The National Union of Somalia Journalists (NUSOJ) reported that a journalist, Abdifatah Ibrahim Hassan, was wounded by a landmine blast on June 17 in Mogadishu’s Hamar Bile neighborhood. The same blast reportedly killed three others and wounded two more.
- A Somali cab driver in St. Louis, Missouri, Mohamud Abdi Yusuf, was sentenced to 13 years in jail on June 19 for providing nearly $6000 in funding to al Shabaab. Yusuf pleaded guilty in November 2011.