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: AQAP claims responsibility for attack on British ambassador; U.S. places sanctions on AQAP leaders; Yemeni government accuses al Houthi rebels of kidnapping four soldiers; Italy pledges anti-terror support to Yemen; Yemen arrests 560 Ethiopians over last two months
Horn of Africa: The UN refugee agency increased its 2010 Somali refugee estimate; Switzerland imposed an embargo on Somalia; fighting between TFG and militants in Mogadishu kills five, wounds seven; two militant attacks Tuesday kill three, including policeman in Mogadishu; Puntland security forces arrest two al Shabaab gunmen; Somali pirates seize Greek ship and 23 crewmen; pirates hijack Bulgarian ship Tuesday with crew of 15
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of the British ambassador to Yemen several weeks ago. The group confirmed that Uthman Noman al Salwi carried out the attack, which wounded three. AQAP said the target, British ambassador Timothy Torlot, is leading the war against Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula.
- The State Department has placed additional financial sanctions on the known leaders of AQAP. AQAP has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against American interests, most notably the failed Christmas Day airline bombing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved a travel ban, assets freeze, and arms embargo against Qasim al Raymi, the top military commander for AQAP, and Nayaf al Qahtani, who manages AQAP’s military operations in Yemen. The State Department had previously approved sanctions on two other AQAP leaders, Nasser al Wahayshi and Said al Shihri, in January.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry said Tuesday that al Houthi rebels have abducted four Yemeni soldiers in the northern governorate of al Jawf. The soldiers were travelling through the town of Zahar in the governorate when the rebels forced their vehicle to stop at gunpoint, and subsequently captured the soldiers. The kidnapping comes one day after two soldiers were killed in shootout with al Houthi rebels in Amran governorate.
- In a meeting with Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi in Rome, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Franco Frattini pledged more Italian support to Yemeni anti-terror operations. The Italian minister neither detailed the nature nor the quantity of support that Italy would offer.
- In the past two months, Yemeni authorities have arrested 560 illegal Ethiopian immigrants in Taiz governorate. The Yemeni government has been trying to speed the deportation of illegal African immigrants in Yemen, which has placed excessive burdens on the already fragile Yemeni economy.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The UN refugee agency upped its estimate of Somali refugees that will be displaced within and outside the country this year to 315,000. It cited worsening violence, and requested an additional 59 million dollars from international donors to meet increased needs.
- Switzerland imposed an embargo against Somalia, stopping military exports, freezing assets and instituting a travel ban in response to the crisis there.
- Fighting between Islamist militants and the TFG killed five civilians and wounded seven others in Mogadishu’s Hodan district.
- An al Shabaab deserter killed a deputy police commander in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district on Tuesday. Also, a roadside bomb in the city’s Waberi district killed two and injured eight while targeting a TFG military vehicle, but no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Puntland security forces arrested two al Shabaab militants in Garowe who were attempting to smuggle AK-47 rifles. Authorities said a third man escaped, but they have his name and will pursue him.
- Somali pirates seized a Greek ship in the Gulf of Aden and took its 23 crew members hostage. The ship was carrying a cargo of iron ore and was en route to China.
- Somali pirates hijacked a Bulgarian ship with a crew of 15 about 100 miles off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday. The ship was en route to India.