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: Saudi Interior Minister promises to assist Yemen in its fight against terrorism; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula denies intent to attack Muslim hajj pilgrimage; Yemeni army launches air strikes east of Sana’a; teenage girl killed by a package bomb addressed to her father; Germany lifts ban on passenger flights from Yemen; four men arrested for participation in Southern Movement protests; Yemeni captive dies aboard ship held by Somali pirates; new reports show that France supplied satellite images to Saudis during 2009 conflict with the al Houthi rebels; Yemeni government and UNHCR will begin offering vocational and technical training for female refugees
Horn of Africa: British couple released by Somali pirates after 388 days in captivity; Somali PM names new cabinet; Hizb al Islam leader vows to increase attacks against the TFG and AMISOM; AU heads met in Burundi to discuss AMISOM progress; Somalia number one on terror risk list; 500 police recruits undergoing AMISOM training in Djibouti; al Shabaab pledges increased attacks against new TFG government; Somaliland intelligence chief resigns; Somali pirates capture Chinese ship with 29 sailors onboard; three pirates killed after mistakenly boarding a Kenyan navy ship; head of CID in Sool region in Somaliland shot by unknown attackers; aid groups urge Kenyan government to relocate Somali refugees in Dadaab camps
Yemen Security Brief
- Saudi Arabia pledged to assist Yemen in its fight against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz said, “The security situation in Yemen is as important to us as the security situation in the kingdom,” and promised that cooperation between the two countries is at the highest level possible.
- AQAP has denied claims made last week by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz that AQAP could be planning to attack the Muslim hajj pilgrimage. In a statement released on jihadist websites, al Qaeda representatives said, “We are against any crimes against pilgrims… Hajj is a pillar of Islam and we are most eager (not to spill) the blood of Muslims, wherever they may be. Mecca is more sacred than any other place.”
- The Yemeni government launched unexpected air strikes in Bani Dhabyan, east of Sana’a, where al Qaeda operatives are believed to be hiding. As of yet there have been no reported casualties.
- A teenage girl was killed and her brother injured by an explosive clock their father received in the mail. Qayed Muhammed Abdullah al Amri, headmaster of a school in Juban city in Dhaleh governorate, received a package of toys and a clock from an unknown sender. The clock exploded as the girl was connecting it to a power source. Yemeni security forces are investigating the incident.
- Germany has lifted its ban on passenger planes originating in Yemen that was put in place following October’s foiled parcel bomb attacks. Germany’s ban on cargo from Yemen remains in effect.
- Four of the men who took part in the Southern Movement’s protests against the arrest of Hassan Baoum in Hadramawt governorate were arrested for staging an illegal protest and upsetting the public. Thousands of Southern Movement supporters continued to protest Baoum’s arrest at a mass demonstration in Maifah in Shabwah governorate Friday.
- Wajdi Akram Mohsen, one of the Yemeni sailors aboard a Panamanian ship being held captive by Somali pirates, has been reported dead. A call from one of the other detainees reported that Mohsen committed suicide, but authorities believe that the evidence dictates that his death was not the result of a suicide.
- New reports show that France supplied Saudi Arabia with satellite images to assist in its fight against the al Houthi rebels along its border with Yemen in late 2009. Saudi Arabian officials approached the U.S. first, but the U.S. government refused to help citing unlawful involvement in a foreign border dispute. France agreed to help, fearing that inaccurate Saudi bombing for want of reliable information could cause unnecessary casualties. Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking its on satellite capability.
- A representative of the Yemeni government at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will integrate women into technical and vocational training programs. This new program will be equipped by the UNHCR, who will also determine the curricula and supply the trainers.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- After 388 days as captives of Somali pirates, Paul and Rachel Chandler, a retired British couple, have been released. According to Paul Chandler, the two were beaten at one point by the pirates for refusing to be separated. Although pirates initially sought a $7 million ransom for the Chandlers, conflicting reports maintain that the actual ransom paid was more likely $1 million or less.
- Somalia’s new Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed named his new cabinet on Friday. At 18 members, it is significantly smaller than his predecessor’s, which had 39 members. Only two members from the previous cabinet will remain in the new PM’s cabinet.
- Hizb al Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has vowed to increase attacks against TFG and AMISOM troops in Somalia during the Muslim month of pilgrimage. Aweys said, “I will not stop the fight until I die or AMISOM to withdraw their troops, we are fighting to defend our country and to apply Shari’ah.” Aweys is also urging al Shabaab militants to increase their attacks.
- AU heads met in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura to discuss the progress of AMISOM and the TFG in Mogadishu. Reports say that AU officials suggested that AMISOM redouble its efforts and that the AU continue to support the TFG led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
- According to a report put out by global consulting firm Maplecroft, Somalia has replaced Iraq as the state most at risk from a terrorist attack. The report read that, “Somalia is the most extreme risk country… It has the highest number of deaths from terrorism per population and surpassed Iraq and Afghanistan in the number of fatalities per terrorist attack.”
- 500 Somali police recruits have arrived in Djibouti to undergo an AMISOM training mission for police officers. This is part of a training mission announced by AMISOM last month for 800 police recruits. The remaining 300 officers will be trained in Kenya’s Manyani camp.
- Al Shabaab has promised increased attacks against Somalia’s new government. Sheikh Hussein Ali Fidow said, “The new government have [sic] no ability to defeat us compared to the previous once led by Sharma’ark, all are from the Diaspora who don’t know more about Somali politics and they joined our enemies.” Filow added, “Our mission is to make Somalia an Islam country – to apply Shari’a Law – so that we connect with other Islamic world.”
- Somaliland’s Intelligence Chief Hussein Hassan Guleid resigned over the weekend, citing a dispute with Somaliland President Silanyo over finances.
- Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden captured a Chinese ship with 29 sailors aboard. Chinese officials are still trying to get in contact with the sailors on the ship.
- Three Somali pirates were killed after boarding a Kenyan navy ship that they had mistaken for a merchant vessel. Kenyan Department of Defense spokesman Bogita Ongeri said, “Three of them… gunned down by naval officers while one dived into the sea with bullet wounds during the scuffle… Several others, whose number could not be immediately established, escaped in the speed boat that they were using.”
- Ali Jama Adan, head of the Criminal Investigation Department of Las Anod in Sool region in Somaliland, was shot by unknown attackers. Adan is currently undergoing treatment for his bullet wounds at a local hospital.
- International aid groups are urging the Kenyan government to relocate the Somali refugees living in the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps because the upcoming rainy season threatens to flood the camps and make the refugees’ living situation even more dangerous.