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: Unidentified gunmen assassinate security officer in Sana’a; Yemeni intelligence services arrest two al Qaeda militants in Aden city; unidentified gunmen kidnap and torture prison guard in Shabwah governorate; gunmen fire automatic weapons at security building Shabwah governorate; commander of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s protective forces escapes assassination attempt in Ibb governorate; security forces arrest al Qaeda militant in Ibb governorate; security forces are pursuing an individual attempting to carry out suicide attack in Aden governorate; civilian killed by improvised explosive device in al Bayda governorate; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon meets with President Hadi in Sana’a; Yemeni Presidential Protection Forces secure roads in Sana’a; al Houthi representative withdraws from meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon; Secretary General of Gulf Cooperation Council travels to Yemen for talks with President Hadi; unidentified gunmen storm education center in al Hudaydah governorate
Horn of Africa: Grenade attack in Nairobi kills seven, causes ethnic riots; Puntland security forces capture two high-level al Shabaab members and a stockpile of weapons; three Kenyan army soldiers were killed in Garissa, Kenya; al Shabaab releases video of year old allegiance ceremony with the Gaaljecel tribe in the Hiraan region; al Shabaab attacks Somali base in Hudur, Bakool region; al Shabaab pulls out of El Garas and El Dheer, Galgudud region; al Shabaab ambushes Kenyan convoy near Elwaq, Gedo region; Somali and AMISOM troops move to take Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region; several Somali parliament members move to expel Kenyan troops from Kismayo over political concerns; Kenyan anti-terror unit maps out al Shabaab hideouts; forty police officers complete training in Beledweyne, Hiraan region
Yemen Security Brief
- Unidentified gunmen assassinated a security officer in Sana’a on November 18. Khaldoun Malik, indentified by local sources as a Political Security Organization officer or Central Security Forces officer, was assassinated in al Qa’ neighborhood after leaving his home. Local sources added that Khaldoun Malik initially survived the assassination attempt, but later died in a hospital receiving treatment for his wounds.
- Yemeni intelligence services arrested two al Qaeda militants in Aden governorate on November 19. Local sources reported that the two al Qaeda militants, identified as Mohammad Ali al Ahmar and Essam Ghaleb Abdullah al Sayyad, were arrested in a hotel in possession of a laptop containing al Qaeda material. The arrest occurred in Aden city.
- Unidentified armed gunmen kidnapped a guard at the central prison in Shabwah governorate on November 18. The armed gunmen reportedly tortured the guard to death.
- Unidentified gunmen fired automatic weapons at a local police investigation building in Shabwah governorate on November 17. The unidentified gunmen were reportedly attempting to free a prisoner from the building. The attack did not result in casualties.
- Commander of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s protective forces, retired Brig. Mohammad Fare’a al Adib, survived an assassination attempt on November 18 while returning to his home in al Qafr district of Ibb governorate.
- Local sources reported on November 17 that security forces arrested a suspected al Qaeda militant in Ibb governorate a few days ago. The suspected al Qaeda militant, who has not been identified yet, told security forces during interrogations that he used to operate in Zinjibar and Jaar in Abyan governorate.
- Security forces in Aden governorate are pursuing an individual suspected of attempting to carry out a suicide attack in Aden governorate on November 19. Local sources reported that the individual, identified as being of Asian descent, was spotted by intelligence services carrying an explosive device in Mansoura district. After detecting surveillance, the suspected suicide bomber reportedly escaped intelligence services and entered a nearby neighborhood. Security measures have been reinforced in Mansoura district as intelligence services continue to pursue the individual.
- An improvised explosive device (IED) killed a civilian in al Bayda governorate on November 18. The civilian, identified as Mohammad Ahmed Neeb Idrees, was killed when suspected terrorists remotely detonated the IED. The blast occurred in al Matnen neighborhood of Radaa city.
- Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, visited Yemen on November 19. Ban Ki-Moon, who was accompanied by UN Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, will be briefed on the political situation in Yemen.
- Yemeni Presidential Protective Forces cut off streets leading to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s residence in Sana’a on November 19. Local sources reported that Presidential Protective Forces reinforced security measures for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s meeting with President Hadi. Local sources added that Ban Ki-Moon was transferred directly by military helicopter from Sana’a International Airport to President Hadi’s residence.
- An al Houthi representative withdrew from a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on November 19. Local sources reported that Mohammed al Bukhaiti, an al Houthi representative for the Yemeni National Dialogue Preparatory Committee, withdrew from the meeting in protest of Israeli attacks on Gaza and U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein’s participation in the meeting.
- Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdullatif al Zayani traveled to Sana’a on November 18 to meet with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
- Unidentified gunmen stormed the center for education in al Hudaydah governorate on November 18. Local sources added that the gunmen forced all the employees out of their offices and then locked the building with chains. The motive behind the attack is unclear.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A grenade attack in Nairobi, Kenya killed at least seven people and injured at least 24 more on November 18. The grenade targeted a matatu, a public transportation vehicle, in the predominantly Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh. No group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack but blame falls on al Shabaab sympathizers. Following the attack non-Somali Kenyans began attacking Somalis in the neighborhood. Reports say non-Somalis are destroying shops owned by Somali immigrants and in some cases, physically injuring Somali residents. Several Somalis living in the area who have sustained injuries have been brought to the hospital. Kenyan police are using tear gas to try to break up the riots. Kenyan police also conducted door-to-door searches on November 18, arresting several hundred Somalis in connection with the grenade attack.
- Puntland security forces captured two high-level al Shabaab members and recovered a stockpile of weapons in Galkayo, Mudug region on November 17. Mohamed Nuh Aden (Abu Hafsa), who was the head of the assassination division and used to run security operations for top al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, was caught along with al Shabaab logistics officer Abdirisak Hussein Tahlil. The two men were caught transporting suicide vests, TNT, grenades, and detonators and were planning on carrying out attacks in Garowe, Mudug region on November 18.
- Three Kenyan army soldiers were killed in Garissa, Kenya while trying to repair their truck on November 19. Unknown gunmen shot the victims who later succumbed to their injuries in a nearby hospital. Following the shooting there were reports of riots that were soon quelled. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the assailants have yet to be caught. This attack comes several days after two policemen were shot and killed in Garissa, after which Kenyan police arrested and beat dozens of suspects.
- Al Shabaab released a video on November 15 showing an allegiance ceremony that took place on January 1, 2012. The video shows Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, shaking the hands of the members of the Gaaljecel tribe from the Hiraan region. In a report written about the video, al Kata’ib, al Shabaab’s media wing, said tribes in Somalia are rushing to join the Muslim cause.
- Al Shabaab militants attacked Somali National Army bases in Hudur, Bakool region on November 18. Fighting ensued between the two sides but according to Somali Army officials, the Somali troops were able to repel the attack. Eight militants were reported dead and several Somali soldiers were injured.
- Al Shabaab militants pulled out of El Garas and El Dheer in Galgudud region on November 18. Al Shabaab has removed all troops and materials from these towns and is headed toward Buulobarde, Hiraan region. The militant group has also downsized its contingent in El Bur, Galgudud region. Reports say al Shabaab received knowledge that Somali and AMISOM troops are planning an attack on Buulobarde, Hiraan region.
- Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan convoy outside Elwaq, Gedo region on November 18. Kenyan officials immediately carried out searches in connection with the attack and arrested an unspecified number of suspects. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and casualties from the incident are not yet known.
- Somali and AMISOM troops are moving to take Jowhar, Middle Shabelle from the al Shabaab militants occupying the town. Residents in the town are fleeing in fear of the imminent attack.
- Several Somali Parliament members are putting together a motion to expel the Kenyan army from Kismayo due to suspicions that Kenya is attempting to pick the new administration in Kismayo. While the Speaker of the Somali Parliament does not say the motion will go through, tensions over Kenya’s suspected intervention in Jubbaland politics and Kismayo politics have increased.
- The Kenyan anti-terror unit has mapped out the location of hideouts where those returning from al Shabaab training camps are living. These hideouts are said to be in Mombasa, Lamu, South Coast, Garissa and Isiolo. Kenyan officials say the number of returning Kenyan al Shabaab militants is near 1,000. Kenyan police are moving in on several positions and have already made some arrests.
- Forty Somali police officers completed a two week training camp in Beledweyne, Hiraan region. The training, which was run by AMISOM forces, was a basic introduction into police procedures.