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: Nine people killed, including army brigade commander, in fighting between the al Houthis and Yemeni troops; AQAP announces the death of a local commander; Ansar al Sharia releases 12th issue of its report on AQAP activities; UNHCR reports that half a million Yemenis have been displaced in the past year
Horn of Africa: TFG troops backed by Ras Kamboni brigades and KDF clashed with al Shabaab in Lower Jubba region; British citizen Shabaaz Hussain will be jailed for five years after being convicted of funding terrorism in Somalia; unknown gunmen shoot and kill a civilian and injure another in Mogadishu; KDF to join AMISOM next week; U.S. pledges aid to Horn of Africa to fight hunger
Yemen Security Brief
- An army brigade commander and six of his bodyguards were killed in a gunfight on March 8 with the al Houthis in Amran governorate. When the officer refused to stop at an al Houthi checkpoint in Amran’s Harf Safyan district, an exchange of gunfire ensued. Abdul Malik al Houthi, the leader of the rebel group, was quoted as saying: “This brutal, unjustified aggression reveals the barbarity of this officer and those who stand behind him and their disregard for the blood of the people and their hatred for the sons of the northern provinces." Two al Houthi fighters were also reported dead in the incident.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) posted a communiqué on jihadist forums on March 8 announcing that Abu Omar Mohammed al Haniq, its commander of Sana’a governorate’s Arhab district, had died from an illness on March 4. AQAP expressed its condolences and praised his virtues: “The journey of the Sheikh does not lack preaching, reforming, doing jihad, giving, and promoting virtue and prohibiting vice, and it is sufficient for us that the Sheikh died while his eyes were cool from the shade of Islamic Shariah, to which he always called Muslims to govern by and apply in their reality.”
- Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s media wing, posted the 12th edition of its report on AQAP activities on jihadist forums on March 8. The issue contains a threat by Ansar al Sharia’s commander in Zinjibar, Jalal al Marqishi, also known as Abu Hamza. Marqishi stated that his group was ready to “wage a merciless war”, which he called “Flowing River,” against Yemeni forces if it did not withdraw from Zinjibar and its environs. The issue also contains an AQAP confirmation that it had killed an American officer in Aden, a speech by AQAP’s deputy leader Said al Shihri (Abu Sufyan al Azdi), and a vow to “cleanse” Abyan’s educational system of violations of shari’a.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that half a million Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes over the last year: 314,000 in the north, due to clashes between the al Houthi rebels and Sunni tribesmen, and 150,000 in the south, due to fighting between the Yemeni military and al Qaeda-linked militants.
Horn of Africa Security Review
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops backed by Ras Kamboni brigades and Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) soldiers clashed with al Shabaab militants in Hayo village in Lower Jubba region on March 8. A TFG military officer confirmed that four militants and one soldier were killed and another soldier was injured.
- British citizen Shabaaz Hussain received a five year sentence after being convicted of providing funding to three of his friends who joined al Shabaab. He confessed to donating a total of £9,114.
- Unknown gunmen shot and killed one civilian and injured another in Hamar Bile neighborhood in Mogadishu on March 8. Witnesses reported that the killed victim was a well respected cleric named Sheikh Mohammed.
- Kenyan army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir reported that Kenyan troops are ready to join African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops next week. Chirchir added that Kenyan troops killed six al Shabaab militants in an attack north of Afmadow on March 8.
- The U.S. pledged on March 8 to work to find long term solutions to help combat hunger issues in the Horn of Africa. Senior official at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Nancy Lindborg reported that the U.S. would meet with other major donors in Kenya in March to discuss potential solutions.