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: Car bomb in Dhaleh kills two people, wounds 22 others; many Yemenis believe al Qaeda threat is a conspiracy theory; YouTube removes videos of Anwar Awlaki; fighting between army forces and suspected terrorists in Abyan governorate leaves three people dead, three suspects arrested; British Home Secretary says AQAP getting stronger while al Qaeda central is getting weaker; French Interior Minister claims one of the bombs discovered was 17 minutes from detonating; U.S. military wants to increase aid to Yemen in 2011; al Awalik tribe refuses al Qaeda request to turn against the government; Yemeni businessman says U.S. restrictions on Yemeni cargo will be lifted in two weeks
Horn of Africa: The Somali government will work with the UN to address the issue of child soldiers; fighting between the TFG and al Shabaab in Mogadishu leaves three people dead, five wounded; 15 people dead in clan fighting in Dhabad village; Hizb al Islam taxes real estate agents in Afgoi corridor; Atom receives medical help in Sanaag region in Puntland; Ban Ki-Moon says piracy is becoming more violent; al Shabaab shuts down Council of Elders Office in Baidoa; landmine explosion in Galgudud leaves three dead, seven injured; pirates seize Comoros ship with 29 on board
Yemen Security Brief
- A bomb placed inside an intelligence official’s car in Dhaleh city exploded outside a security building, killing a pedestrian and a policeman and wounding 22 others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- One of President Saleh’s greatest obstacles in fighting al Qaeda in Yemen is that many Yemenis consider the fight against the terrorist group to be some sort of conspiracy theory used by the government to get aid from the West. Abdullah al Faqih, a professor at Sana’a University, said, “We cannot differentiate between what is propaganda and what is real… It’s impossible to tell who is killing who; you have tribal feuds, al Qaeda and the Southern Movement, and the state is doing a lot of manipulation.” This confusion, along with making it more difficult for the Saleh government to effectively fight terrorism, makes it easier for al Qaeda to thrive, since they are able to exploit the people’s skepticism of the government and the West to garner support.
- Following pressure from U.S. and British government officials, YouTube has removed videos featuring the U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki from its site. YouTube spokesman Victoria Grand said the videos violated certain provisions of the site, including portraying “dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, or incitement to commit violent acts” and came from a “member of a designated foreign terrorist organization.”
- Fighting broke out between Yemeni army forces and suspected terrorists in Jaar in Abyan governorate after army troops were dispatched to a house where suspected al Qaeda militants were thought to be hiding. One terrorist suspect was killed, along with two army troops, during four hours of fighting. By the end of the clash, authorities had arrested three terrorist suspects.
- British Home Secretary Theresa May said that while al Qaeda central’s capabilities have been getting gradually weaker since 9/11, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “now has a very substantial operational capability in Yemen.” May cited last week’s failed cargo bombings as an example of the tendency of emerging terrorist organizations like AQAP to “use new technology to constantly develop and refine the way they work, probing gaps in our protective security.”
- French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux reported that one of the mail bombs discovered last week was defused only 17 minutes before it was set to detonate. The cell phones did not contain SIM cards, indicating that they were to be used as timers to detonate the bombs. Hortefeux provided no other information and declined to say where he received his information.
- According to government officials, the U.S. military seeks to increase military aid to Yemen next year from its current level of $155 million to as much as $250 million to help with equipment and training.
- The Awalik tribe confirmed its commitment to assisting the Yemeni government in its fight against terrorism. Tribal leaders, however, refused to discuss the location of cleric Anwar al Awlaki, saying Awlaki’s arrest is the government’s affair.
- Mahamed Abdul Kader, deputy chairman of Yemen’s Civil Aviation Authority said the U.S. ban on cargo from Yemen is hurting its exports, and that, “the restrictions being imposed by the Americans will be lifted within the next two weeks.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The Somali government announced it will work with the UN to ameliorate the problem of child soldiers being used on both sides of the conflict in Somalia. UN representative for children in armed conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said the number of child soldiers in Somalia is on the rise, and that they are “exploited for the fact that children have a much less developed concept of death so they tend to be fearless.”
- Fighting between TFG forces and al Shabaab in Bondhere district in Mogadishu left three people dead and five wounded. The fighting began when al Shabaab attacked a TFG military base.
- Fighting between clans in Dhabad village north of Mogadishu killed at least 15 people. The two clans were reportedly fighting over a land issue.
- Hizb al Islam exacts taxes on real estate agents operating in areas under its control, especially in the Afgoi corridor outside of Mogadishu. The displacement of 1.5 Somalis out of 9 million due to fighting between the government and insurgent groups has led to a sort of housing boom in the country. The flight of many Somalis from their homes and the high demand for houses in safer areas has allowed real estate developers to earn a huge profit by purchasing deserted homes for very lost cost.
- Arms dealer and former warlord Mohamed Said Atom is receiving medical care in a house in Badhan in Saneeg region in northern Somalia after being shot in the hip by Puntland forces in his Galgala hideout.
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a new report that piracy off the coast of Somalia is becoming increasingly violent, despite the presence of naval patrols. Mr. Ban said, “The trend of increasing levels of violence employed by the pirates as well as their expanding reach is disconcerting.” Mr. Ban says more needs to be done to improve evidence gathering find long-term solutions to the piracy problem.
- Al Shabaab shut down the Council of Elders office in Baidoa in Bay region without notice on Thursday. Although al Shabaab has not released a statement as to why they closed the office, some believe that it is because the Council has refused several demands from al Shabaab for their support.
- A landmine explosion in Galgudud region exploded as a truck passed over it, killing three people and injuring seven more. It is believed that the landmine has been in the road for several years.
- Somali pirates have seized a Comoros ship on its way to Tanzania. The ship has 20 passengers and nine crew on board.