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: Yemen continues language school sting, arrests 50 foreigners; two al Qaeda operatives surrender to authorities in Ma’rib province; government forces, separatists clash in Dhaleh; al Qaeda ambush kills Yemen military official; al Houthis, tribesmen clash in Harf Sufyan; Abdul Malik al Houthi calls for Saleh to follow through on amnesty promise; Yemen deports 320 Ethiopians
Horn of Africa: U.S. arrests two Americans leaving country to fight for al Shabaab; U.S. officials: hundreds of foreign militants in Somalia; explosion targets lawmakers in Mogadishu; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a denies cutting communications in Dhusa Mareb; Kenya ready for Shabaab attacks; Tanzania calls for more African troops in Somalia; Hizb al Islam official warns group of foreign air raids; AMISOM says two Ugandan’s killed in Mogadishu fighting; al Shabaab flogs boys for drugs, pornography
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemen has now arrested fifty foreigners on suspicion of al Qaeda ties in its latest sting on language schools. Among those held are Americans, Britons, Australians, and Frenchmen.
- Two al Qaeda operatives turned themselves in to Yemeni security forces in Ma’rib province after successful mediation efforts by local authorities. Ghalib al Zayedi surrendered Saturday, and Hamza Ali Saleh al-Dayan, who escaped during the 2006 prison-break, turned himself in Monday. Al Dayan is believed to have trained suicide bombers and to have been involved in the 2007 suicide attack that killed seven Spanish tourists. He may also have been involved in the 2008 mortar attack on the U.S. Embassy.
- Clashes between the Yemeni army and Southern Movement militants killed six and wounded 17 in Dhaleh on Monday. Security forces attempted to break a strike by the secessionists in the city center and locals report indiscriminate shelling of the city. The strike is held the first Monday of every month to “protest the blockade of Daleh [sic] imposed since the month of March, to demand the liberation of detainees, and to call for the independence of the south.”
- Suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen killed a senior army officer, Mohammed Saleh al Shaief, and a soldier in an attack on their convoy. Two other officers and a soldier were injured. The convoy was returning from a security mission. Local tribesmen claimed Hassan al Aqli was the al Qaeda operative behind the attack.
- Fighting between al Houthi militants and pro-government tribesmen in the Harf Sufyan district of Amran province killed six people Friday.
- Abdul Malik al Houthi called on the government to release the rest of his detained followers in accordance with President Saleh’s amnesty declaration on May 22. He also claimed the government in complicit in a blockade of the road between Sa’ada and Sana’a.
- Yemen deported 320 Ethiopians Saturday who had attempted to enter the country illegally in the past few months.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- U.S. security authorities arrested two New Jersey men at JFK Airport Saturday after they attempted to leave the country and fight for al Shabaab in Somalia. The FBI had been tracking the two men, Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, since 2006. Federal and local officials report they planned to fly to Egypt and then to Somalia to fight. Alessa and Almonte have been charged with conspiring to kill, maim, and kidnap people outside of the U.S and are facing a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. Almonte converted to Islam around six years ago.
- U.S. officials said Sunday that hundreds of foreign fighters have traveled to Somalia to fight for al Shabaab. However, the number of Americans joining the Islamist group has waned over the past two years. About 20 Americans have joined al Shabaab, and at least six of them have been killed in fighting, according to family and relatives.
- No group claimed responsibility for an explosion targeting lawmakers at the Medina hotel in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district Saturday. There are no reported casualties.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a denied cutting all telecommunications in Dhusa Mareb Monday, in spite of reports the group had done so in preparation for an offensive against al Shabaab.
- In the wake of a cross-border raid by al Shabaab, Kenyan security officials said they are prepared to fight the Islamist group should there be another incident. On May 27, al Shabaab wounded five Kenyans and kidnapped three others, who have since been released.
- Tanzania called on African nations to send more troops to back the embattled TFG in Somalia to avert a total collapse there.
- Moallim Hashi Mohamed Farah, Hizb al Islam’s Mogadishu governor, warned that his group may be the target of foreign-led air raids. “We have information about plans by western countries to carry out raids on cities and towns including Mogadishu, Kismato [sic], Marka, which are under the control of Somali Islamists,” he said.
- An AMISOM spokesman said that two Ugandan peacekeepers died in last week’s fighting in Mogadishu. He confirmed that the troops fought alongside the TFG in its counter-offensive. Over 30 peacekeepers have been killed since 2007.
- Al Shabaab publicly flogged two boys convicted of selling drugs in Jowhar, the capital of the Middle Shabelle region. In Marka, the group punished six boys for watching pornographic material on their cell phones through public lashings.