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: Failed parcel bombings linked to suspected September dry run; Yemeni prosecutors charge Awlaki with plotting to kill foreigners; Yemen deploys additional troops to support offensive against al Qaeda; Yemeni military launch offensive in Shabwah and Ma’rib governorates to track down Asiri; failed cargo bombs could be an attempt by Asiri to make up for last year’s failed Christmas day bombing; oil pipeline in Shabwah governorate bombed; U.S. ambassador to Yemen says Yemeni government not to blame for bombing attempt; Germany bans passenger flights from Yemen; Yemeni officials claim German ban on Yemeni cargo and passenger flights is illogical
Horn of Africa: Somali PM takes oath of office; al Shabaab claims responsibility for attack on Burundian base in Mogadishu; al Shabaab demands women to order their children to fight for al Shabaab; death toll in Mogadishu from recent fighting rises to 21; Puntland president claims victory over insurgents; Hizb al Islam vows to continue fighting the TFG; UK bans all unaccompanied freight from Somalia; three Britons kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- American security officials have linked Friday’s failed parcel bombings to a suspected dry run conducted in mid-September. In September, authorities in Chicago seized packages containing “papers, books and other materials” that were allegedly shipped by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in order to test their capabilities within the air cargo system. A security official reported that after they became aware of the threat late last week, “we recalled the incident and factored it in to our government’s very prompt response.”
- Yemeni prosecutors have charged in absentia the radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki with plotting to kill foreigners. The charge was announced today at the opening of the trial Awlaki, a relative of his, Osman al Awlaki, also in absentia, and Hisham Assem, who was present and is accused of killing a Frenchman in Yemen in early October.
- Yemen deployed an additional 3,000 troops, including members of U.S.-trained counterterrorism units, to support offensive against AQAP in southern provinces of Shabwah, Abyan, and Dhaleh governorates.
- The Yemeni military has launched a major offensive in Shabwah and Ma’rib governorates to track down Ibrahim al Asiri, the man believed to have manufactured the bombs discovered in London and Dubai late last week. A security official reported, “Asiri is believed to be hiding and moving with senior al Qaeda elements such as (Yemen al Qaeda leader) Nasser al Wahayshi. Security intelligence are still tracking them down to exactly identify their whereabouts.”
- U.S. security officials believe that last week’s failed cargo bombs were an attempt by Ibrahim al Asiri to make up for last year’s failed Christmas day bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger flight. The two bombs contained 300 and 400 grams of PETN, while the Christmas day bomb only contained 80 grams. The White House’s counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said, “It shows that they are trying to again make different types of adaptations based on what we have put in place… so the underwear bomber, as well as these packages, are showing sort of new techniques on their part. They are very innovative and creative.”
- An oil pipeline in Shubaika in Shabwah governorate was bombed by unknown gunmen. The explosion resulted in the leakage of large quantities of oil; however, no injuries were reported.
- U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein said that the Yemeni government is not to blame for letting the explosive packages out of their country, as they were so complicated that it was nearly impossible to detect them. Feierstein said, “The United States and the international community consider Yemen a key partner in fighting terrorism. Everyone knows that Yemen faces al Qaeda and suffers losses and sacrifices.”
- After indefinitely halting cargo deliveries from Yemen this weekend, Germany has also temporarily suspended all passenger flights from Yemen. The package carrying the bomb that was found in London on Friday was routed through a UPS hub in Cologne. Yemeni officials stated that Germany’s ban on cargo and passenger flights originating in Yemen is an illogical punishment, as Yemen is actively fighting terrorism within the country. The official said that the ban is harming Yemen’s counterterrorism efforts and aiding al Qaeda.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was sworn in on Monday as the new Prime Minister of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. At a ceremony at Villa Somalia, he asked the government and the people to “assist me as I conduct my heavy duties.”
- In a communiqué issued on jihadist forums, al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the October 30 bombing of the Burundian AMISOM troops’ base at the Jalle Siad military camp in Mogadishu. Three Burundian soldiers were killed and four were injured in the attack.
- Claiming that the women of Somalia need to do more to support the jihad, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, al Shabaab’s governor of the Banadir region, called on women in Mogadishu to order their children to join in the fight. “At this time, we believe that we can eliminate all the AMISOM troops and those who are fighting against us. All those who are against al-Shabab Mujahideen are very weak indeed. So we are required to come together and rout them.”
- The death toll of Sunday and Monday’s fighting between al Shabaab and TFG troops in Shibis and Bondhere districts in Mogadishu has risen to 21, with more than 30 people wounded. Al Shabaab militants were led in the fighting by Ali Dhere, the group’s spokesman, and Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, al Shabaab’s second in command. TFG military commanders say that forces killed “senior al Shabaab leaders.”
- Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole claimed victory of the insurgents hiding in Puntland’s mountainous region, claiming that Mohamed Said Atom has fled from Puntland into Somaliland. Farole said, “The victory belongs to Puntland, to its people and its security forces.” He also announced that he has combined Puntland’s Police Force and Custodial Corps into one force, called the Security and Rehabilitation Police (SRP). General Ali Nur Omar was named chief of the new force.
- Hizb al Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys vowed to continue fighting against the TFG and its allies. Aweys said, “I am appealing to all Muslims to join the war for the reason that it is obligatory to the Muslim community to fight with their enemies… We are ready to die or kill our enemies (AMISOM).”
- The UK has banned all unaccompanied freight coming from Somalia and Yemen, based on the possibility that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Somali terrorist groups are in contact. The UK has also banned toner cartridges over 500 grams in hand luggage.
- Three Britons sailing a yacht off the coast of Somalia have been captured by Somali pirates. The details of the kidnapping are still unclear, but it is believed to have happened around 2 PM on Monday.