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: Two men trained by al Qaeda arrested in Brooklyn for espionage; U.S. embassy in Sana’a tells staff to avoid Western hotel; southern secessionists capture two Yemeni soldiers; one person killed during protest in Dhaleh; Yemeni officials demand surrender of 50 southern “outlaws”; armed drones sent to Yemen to target al Awlaki; Yemen’s Defense Ministry says it killed 35 al Qaeda militants; 45 African refugees arrested after coming ashore in Yemen; grenade blast wounds eight in Sana’a; Yemeni government seizes over 10,000 weapons from civilians in April
Horn of Africa: Hizb al Islam captures pirate base in Somalia; bomb blasts kill over 30 in Mogadishu mosque; Ethiopian authorities arrest al Shabaab and OLF militants crossing border from Somalia; al Shabaab kills three in Mogadishu; second mosque blast kills one in Kismayo; growing number of British coming to Somalia to support Islamist militants
Yemen Security Brief
- Two Brooklyn residents were arrested on charges of conspiring to provide al Qaeda with computer assistance after training with the group in Yemen. The two men, Wesam el Hanafi, and Sabirhan Hasanoff, are both American citizens. They are believed to have been providing support to al Qaeda since 2007.
- The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a has told its staff to avoid visiting the Movenpick Hotel in the city for fear of another suicide attack similar to the attempted assassination of the British ambassador last week. The embassy further warned its employees to avoid congregating in areas frequented by Westerners.
- Southern secessionists kidnapped two Yemeni soldiers Saturday in Lahij province as they returned to their barracks. The secessionists are demanding the release of two southern leaders in return for the soldiers, saying that they would kill the hostages if the leaders were not released in 48 hours.
- Gunmen killed a man in a qat market during a separatist rally in Dhaleh governorate on Monday. Two others were wounded in the shooting. In a separate incident in Dhaleh, gunmen from the Southern Movement opened fire on the governorate building in the city.
- The Yemeni government has demanded the surrender of 50 “outlaws” wanted for murder and attacks on civilians in southern Yemen. The list, which was posted on the government’s website, urged the Southern Movement to hand over the fugitives to the proper authorities.
- The United States has deployed armed drones to Yemen prepared to strike at Anwar al Awlaki, the radical imam with ties to al Qaeda. al Awlaki is believed to be hiding in the mountains in Shabwah governorate.
- The Yemeni Defense Ministry said it has killed over 35 al Qaeda militants and captured dozens across the country in recent weeks. The ministry said it had launched “preemptive raids” in the capital of Sana’a, as well as al Hudaydah, Ma’rib, Shabwah, and Abyan governorates.
- Yemeni authorities arrested 45 African refugees 100 miles inland in Yemen after they had come ashore on the southern coast. The group, consisting of 35 Ethiopians and 10 Somalis intended to move from Yemen to Saudi Arabia .
- Eight people were injured when an unidentified man threw a grenade into a shop in Sana’a. The man reportedly got off a motorcycle and hurled the grenade into the store. Investigations are ongoing as to the cause of the attack.
- The Yemeni Interior Ministry says it seized over 10,000 weapons from civilians in April. The seizure is part of the government’s disarmament campaign, which according to the ministry, is aimed at reducing crime and preserving public security.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Hizb al Islam militants have seized the main pirate port of Harardhere in central Somalia. Pirates were seen fleeing the town on Sunday as the Islamist militants moved in. It is unclear what has happened to the foreign hostages being held by the pirates in the town.
- Two explosions inside the Abdala Shideye Mosque in Bakara Market in Mogadishu killed at least 30 as worshippers attended noon prayers on Saturday. An additional 70 were wounded by the blast. Witnesses say a high ranking member of al Shabaab, Fuad Mohamed Qalaf, also known as Fuad Shongole, was the target of the attack.
- Ethiopian authorities have arrested a group of militants from al Shabaab and the Oromo Liberation Front as they crossed over into the country from Somalia. Officials say the rebels planned to disrupt the Ethiopian election scheduled for May 23.
- Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the killing of three teenagers in Mogadishu, found in Bakara Market early Sunday morning. Al Shabaab officials said the teenagers were members of the pro-government group Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a.
- A second mosque was attacked in Somalia on Sunday evening after bomb went off in a mosque in Kismayo, killing one. Ten others were wounded in the blast. No group has taken responsibility for the blast.
- An increasing number of British citizens of Pakistani descent are lending their support Islamist militant groups in Somalia. A large number of the Britons are believed to be headed for Somalia ahead of reported American efforts to strengthen the army of the transitional government.