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: Artillery bombardment kills seven al Qaeda-linked militants in Zinjibar; AQAP threatens to kill prisoners if their fighters are not released from Yemeni prisons; Yemeni Interior Ministry detects AQAP plot to take over al Mukalla; AQAP deputy leader gives speech urging Sunnis to join AQAP and to kill Shiites; UN Security Council strongly condemns AQAP’s March 4 attacks on Yemeni forces
Horn of Africa: Landmine blasts target Ethiopian troops in Beledweyne; UNPOS and TFG representatives meet to address the issue of child soldiers in Somalia; former U.S. army soldier indicted on charges of attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab; EU reportedly pledges 100 million Euro increase to AMISOM forces and vows to increase military presence on Somali coastline; al Shabaab releases three communiqués detailing an attempt to down a helicopter and recent attacks
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni military sources reported that its forces carried out an artillery bombardment on Zinjibar that killed seven al Qaeda-linked militants.
- Ansar al Sharia threatened to kill the 73 prisoners it claims to have captured unless its jailed members are released by the Yemeni government. In a statement, the militant group said, "The mujahideen demand the release of their prisoners from the national and political security jails in exchange for saving the lives of 73 soldiers they hold captive in Abyan…In the event of failure to comply with their (the militants') demands, the lives of the soldiers will be in danger."
- The Yemeni Ministry of the Interior reported on March 7 that it had detected a plot by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to take over al Mukalla and incorporate it into its “Islamic emirate of Azzan.” The Ministry said that AQAP had gathered 300 fighters in Azzan for the assault, which was to be led by Qasim al Raymi, Ibrahim al Banna (an Egyptian), and Shaker Bin Hamel. Security forces have been put on alert to counter the threat.
- AQAP’s media wing, al Malahem Foundation, posted a speech by AQAP deputy leader Said al Shihri (Abu Sufyan al Azdi) on jihadist forums on March 7. He calls the “Rafidah” (literally “Rejectors”, referring to Shiites) the greatest threat to the Arabian Peninsula, stressing that they “should be killed, as mentioned in the Hadith of the Prophet…” He stresses that the Sunnis do not need the United States, “the enemy of Islam and Muslims”, to fight their battles for them: “They [Sunnis] don’t have planes or tanks, but only faith in Allah, love for martyrdom in the Cause of Allah and raising high the word of Allah, and some light and medium weapons that they carry.” Shihri calls upon Sunnis to join AQAP in waging jihad.
- On March 7, the United Nations Security Council condemned AQAP’s March 4 attack on Yemeni forces, which killed 185 Yemeni soldiers, stating that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable.” UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon also strongly condemned the attacks.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Residents reported that landmine blasts targeted Ethiopian personnel carriers in Beledweyne in Hiraan region. No casualties or injuries have been reported yet.
- Representatives from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) met on March 7 to finalize the Action Plan to “establish safeguards against child involvement in the Somali National Security Forces (NSF).” The Action Plan is tentatively set to be signed in April 2012.
- Former U.S. army soldier Craig Baxam, who was accused of attempted to provide material support to al Shabaab, was indicted on March 7 by the federal grand jury. Baxam faces a maximum sentence of 15 years if convicted.
- President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy reported that the European Union (EU) pledged an increase of approximately 100 million Euros to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. The EU also reportedly pledged to increase its military presence near the Somali coastline through 2014 to help combat piracy.
- Al Shabaab’s media wing al Kata’ib Media Foundation released three communiqués on jihadist forums on March 6. On March 4, al Shabaab militants launched a surface-to-air missile (SAM) targeting a military helicopter flying over Lafole district in Lower Shabelle region. On March 4, al Shabaab attacked troops near Beled Hawo near the Kenyan border, claiming that the troops fled to Mandera, Kenya. On March 4, al Shabaab took over Dif village for several hours before later withdrawing.