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: Saleh threatens activists in offer of dialogue; landmine risk awareness campaign begins in northern Yemen; EU pledges to extend anti-terror cooperation with Yemen

Horn of Africa: Fighting between TFG and AU forces and al Shabaab militants leave 26 dead in Mogadishu streets; U.S. embassy bombing mastermind takes over al Shabaab; half of food aid to Somalia diverted to corrupt officials and Islamist rebels, successful pirate attacks fall by 62% since last year; accused al Shabaab conspirator pleads not guilty; Dutch want more information before extraditing Somali man to the United States; AFRICOM head says U.S. supports Somali recapture of Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, threatened to “crush” activists calling for independence in the country’s southern region, even as he extended a call for dialogue between the two sides. If southern separatists would be willing to forego violence, President Saleh said he would be willing to hear their grievances.[1] 

  •  A campaign has begun to educate displaced persons in northern Yemen about the danger of landmines. Regions in the north of the country are heavily mined from conflicts dating back to the 1960s. Displaced persons are especially at risk on their return travel home from refugee camps.[2] 

  • The European Union delegation visiting Yemen pledged support to the nation’s security and discussed realms of cooperation between the EU and Yemen on matters related to anti-terrorism and anti-piracy.[3] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An intense gun battle in the streets of Mogadishu has left 26 people dead and another 80 wounded. TFG and AU forces fought off al Shabaab fighters as they attacked their compound in the north of the city. The majority of the dead were 18 civilians who died when mortars hit their homes near the fighting.[4]

  • Ahmed al Fazul, the mastermind of U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, has taken charge of al Shabaab in Somalia. Fazul, one the most wanted terrorists in the world, is believed to have left Tanzania for Somalia to take control of the group.  [Editor’s note: Other foreign governments have made the same claim in the past, and al Shabaab has summarily denied the claim. CTP, for several reasons, is skeptical of this report until publically confirmed by al Shabaab].[5] 

  • According to a leaked report from the U.N., up to half of all food aid to Somalia is being diverted to corrupt officials and Islamist rebels. Additionally the report accuses the Somali government of collaborating with pirates, and auctioning off European visas to the highest bidder, including selling them to pirates or insurgents. Somali contractors for aid agencies are believed to be using their position to make a profit and funnel funds to many of the rebel groups in opposition to the TFG.[6]

  • Pirates in the Gulf of Aden have seen a precipitous drop in successful hijackings of vessels over the past year. Since early 2009, successful Somali pirate operations are down 62%. U.S. Navy analysts attribute the drop to more cautious routes being taken by ships through the region.[7]

  • The Eritrean man charged with aiding al Shabaab militants pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in a New York courtroom. Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, who was extradited to the United States from Nigeria on Saturday, is accused of receiving weapons and explosives training from the militant group, and conspiring to aid them in future operations.[8]

  • A Dutch judge has asked for more information from American authorities before extraditing a Somali man wanted in Minneapolis for aiding al Shabaab militants. Mohamud Said Omar is accused of providing money to purchase weapons for al Shabaab.[9] 

  • U.S. Army General William Ward, commander of AFRICOM, said Tuesday that the United States would support the TFG to retake capital city of Mogadishu from Islamist rebels. Ward also said that the TFG "has for now our best potential for helping to turn around some of the instability and lack of governance."[10]

[1] “Yemeni President ‘Will Crush Activists’ But Welcomes Talks,” The National, March 9, 2010. Available:
[2] “Landmine Awareness Campaign Targets Yemen IDPs,” Middle East Online, March 10, 2010. Available:
[3] “EU Vows to Extend Anti-Terror, Anti-Piracy Cooperation with Yemen: Diplomat,” People’s Daily Online, March 10, 2010. Available:
[4] “Somalia: death toll rises as bloody fighting rocks Mogadishu,” Mareeg, March 10, 2010. Available:
[5] “Somalia: Fazul Believed to Have Taken Over al Shabaab Reins,” Shabelle Media Network, March 9, 2010. Available:
[6] “Food Aid Bypasses Somalia’s Needy, U.N. Study Finds,” The New York Times, March 10, 2010. Available:
[7] “Gulf of Aden Pirates Are Having Less Success,” Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2010. Available:,0,339262.story
[8] “Eritrean Pleads Not Guilty to Aiding Terrorists,” AP, March 10, 2010. Available:
[9] “Dutch Seek More Info in Alleged Somali Terror Case,” AP, March 9, 2010. Available:
[10] “Africom Commander Says U.S. Supports Somali Government to Retake Mogadishu,” Xinhua, March 10, 2010. Available:
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