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: Final death toll of Ansar al Sharia Abyan offensive is 185 Yemeni soldiers; Houthis kidnap activists in Sa’ada for participating in elections; AQAP posts an interview of one of its leaders, Fahd al Quso, on jihadist forums; Ansar al Sharia releases video of an alleged spy’s execution; assailants throw grenades at al Mukalla security buildings, killing at least one and wounding 20 others; suicide bombing at Republican Guard base in al Bayda
Horn of Africa: Two soldiers injured by blast in Baidoa; Burundian soldier killed and one other wounded while trying to defuse a bomb in northern Mogadishu; al Shabaab releases nine communiqués detailing attacks in Banadir, Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Hiraan regions
Yemen Security Brief
- The death toll of the March 4 Ansar al Sharia offensive is reported to have risen to 185 Yemeni soldiers. The huge defeat has left Yemeni troops demoralized and “fearful of al-Qaida because of the barbarism and brutality of their attack,” a senior military Yemeni military official reported. Many of the soldiers’ bodies were found mutilated and beheaded. New President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has pledged to continue the fight against al Qaeda in his country: "The confrontation will continue until we are rid of the last terrorist, whether in Abyan or elsewhere.”
- On March 5, the al Houthis kidnapped activists Khalid Ali Arafah, Halan al Shamali, and others in Sa’ada’s Saqain district for the “crime” of having voted in the February 21 presidential election. Their current location is unknown.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media wing, al Malahem Foundation, posted an interview by Yemeni journalist Abdul Razzaq al Jamal of AQAP official Fahd al Quso on jihadist websites on March 2. It is the second time al Jamal has interviewed Quso. The AQAP leader provided his thoughts on the recent Yemeni elections: they were “fake”, a “dirty political game,” and “the people are being manipulated.” He was similarly skeptical about new president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi: he called him “another face for Ali Abdullah Saleh” and said that Hadi was “an obedient slave” for the United States. U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein is the “true ruler of Yemen.” The people of Abyan, Quso argued, are “very relieved” to live under shari’a.
- Ansar al Sharia’s media wing Madad News Agency released a video on March 5 depicting the public execution of an alleged spy and the crowd’s reaction to it. The actual execution, which took place in ‘Azzan in Shabwah governorate, is not shown: the video goes blank and a gunshot is heard, followed by the crowd shouting “Allahu akbar!” Interviewed afterwards, people in the crowd expressed their thanks to Ansar al Sharia for “executing the just punishment of Allah against the spy, and we ask Allah to make him as an example for others.” The alleged spy, Ramzi Muhammad Qa’id al ‘Ariqi, was accused of helping the United States to target AQAP members.
- Unknown assailants threw grenades at the entrances of two Central Security Force buildings in al Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt. At least one soldier was killed and 20 others injured. A Yemeni security official accused al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) of being behind the attacks, which occurred on March 3.
- There was a suicide car bombing on March 3 at the Dar al Nasr Republican Guard Base, located in the city of al Bayda. In addition to the two men in the vehicle, one soldier was killed in the attack.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Two soldiers were injured from a blast targeting a military truck in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region, on March 5. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- A Burundian soldier was killed and another injured while trying to defuse a bomb in northern Mogadishu on March 5. African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) blamed al Shabaab for detonating the explosive.
- Al Shabaab’s media wing al Kata’ib Media Foundation released nine communiqués on jihadist forums on March 3 detailing attacks in Banadir, Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Hiraan regions. In Boosaaso, al Shabaab confirmed an attack on March 3 with its newly allied force, the Galgala militia, killing 30 Puntland soldiers and three militants. In Garabaharey in Gedo region, al Shabaab reportedly killed Commander Muhammad Ali Harit and parliamentarian Mahmoud Sayyid Adam on February 29. Al Shabaab claimed eight other people were killed and 25 others were wounded. In Baidoa in Bay region, al Shabaab reportedly attacked an Ethiopian base on February 29. In Beledweyne in Hiraan region, al Shabaab claimed it killed seven soldiers in an attack on March 1. In Banadir region, al Shabaab claimed responsibility for an explosive device that killed a Burundi soldier and three of his guards on March 1. On March 2, al Shabaab claimed it killed eight people, including three Ethiopian soldiers, with an explosive device in Baidoa. “The bomb was detonated on the soldiers after they pulled it out of the ground and carried it with them.” Also on March 2, al Shabaab allegedly detonated four explosive devices in Maslah in northern Mogadishu, causing “a large number of casualties.” Finally, on March 2, al Shabaab claimed a grenade attack against Djiboutian troops in Banadir that killed two soldiers and wounded four others.