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: AQAP operatives clash with Saudi border guards near Yemen border; security forces seize arms shipment coming from Turkey; Tariq al Fadhli returns to Zinjibar city; al Houthi rebels distribute money to tribal leaders in celebration of Shia Islamic holiday; local sources report that southern political leaders may return for Yemeni National Dialogue; Yemeni security forces thwart kidnapping attempt in Sana’a; tribal sheikh survives ambush attempt in northern Yemen; al Houthi rebels set up new training camp in Sa’ada governorate; security measures reinforced at U.S. Embassy in Sana’a; al Houthi rebels clash with tribesmen north of Sana’a
Horn of Africa: Two suicide bombers kill four in Mogadishu; U.S. nationals of Somali descent continue to fill fighting ranks of al Shabaab in Somalia; al Shabaab comments on Hurricane Sandy; Ali Mahmoud Rage remarks on Uganda’s potential withdrawal from Somalia; UN officials tour Beledweyne, Hiraan region; al Shabaab arrests qat dealers in Bardhere, Gedo region; Prime Minister Shirdon appoints new cabinet; security forces arrest ten suspected al Shabaab militants in Bay region; President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud meets with U.S. officials in Mogadishu; grenade attack in Garissa, Kenya kills one and wounds several; roadside blast kills at least four AMISOM troops in Kismayo; al Shabaab attacks locations in Kismayo with mortars
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives clashed with Saudi border guards in Najran district in southern Saudi Arabia on November 5. The AQAP operatives were reportedly attempting to enter Yemen. Two Saudi border guards and four AQAP operatives were killed in the clashes. The Saudi Interior Ministry reported that ten of the eleven AQAP operatives involved in the clashes are Saudi nationals and had been previously arrested for al Qaeda-linked activities.
- Yemeni security forces seized a large arms shipment on November 3 in Aden port. The large shipment of mostly handguns was found hidden inside food containers. The arms shipment was found onboard a ship coming from Turkey. The intended destination of the weapons is unclear.
- Tariq al Fadhli, who once fought with al Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviets, reportedly returned to Zinjibar on November 5. Local sources reported that Tariq al Fadhli was escorted by soldiers from the 115th Infantry Brigade. Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) strongly opposed the return of Tariq al Fadhli and demanded that he vacate the city immediately. Local sources added that PRC forces surrounded his house and reportedly arrested a member of the 115th Infantry Brigade who helped escort Tariq al Fadhli. Local reports suggest that Tariq al Fadhli has been killed; however, these reports have not yet been confirmed.
- Al Houthi rebels distributed money to tribal leaders on November 3 in celebration of Eid al Ghadeer, a Shia Islamic holiday. Local sources reported that al Houthi rebels plan to celebrate the holiday near President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s residence in Sana’a.
- Local sources reported on November 5 that southern political leaders may return to Yemen to take part in the upcoming Yemeni National Dialogue. Ali Salem al Beidh, who previously stated on September 13 that he would return to Yemen, is potentially one of the returning leaders. Local sources added that security guarantees have been granted to protect returning southern leaders and their families’.
- Yemeni security forces thwarted an attempt to kidnap a Filipino citizen in Sana’a on November 4. Local sources reported that Yemeni Rescue Police stopped a vehicle near 45th Street and discovered the Filipino man hidden in the canopy of the truck.
- Tribal leader Sheikh Mubarak al Meshn al Zaydi survived an ambush attempt in northern Yemen on November 4. Local sources reported unidentified assailants attacked his convoy with using land mines and guns. Four people were killed and nine were wounded in the attempted ambush.
- Local sources reported on November 3 that al Houthi rebels have set up a new training base in Sa’ada governorate. Local sources added that there is significant al Houthi expansion in the region. An unidentified security source also reported that ex-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is building a home in one of the districts of Sa’ada governorate.
- Security measures at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a have been reinforced following reported threats by al Houthi rebels. Local sources added that al Houthi rebels have threatened to respond against the United States for a suspected U.S. targeted airstrike that killed AQAP operatives in al Houthi-controlled territory on October 29.
- Al Houthi rebels clashed with tribesmen in Nihm region north of Sana’a on November 3. Local sources added that several al Houthi and local tribesmen were wounded in the clashes.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Two suicide bombers killed at least four people and wounded several others in Mogadishu on November 3. Local sources reported that the attack occurred in Hodan district of Mogadishu, an area often visited by government personnel.
- U.S. nationals of Somali descent from Minnesota continue to fill the fighting ranks of al Shabaab militants in Somalia according to a report by ABC News. As recent as July 2012, two U.S. nationals identified as Mohammad Osman and Omar Ali Farah, left Minnesota to travel to Somalia to join al Shabaab. Kyle Loven, chief division counsel for FBI’s Minneapolis field office, was quoted as saying, “recruits going to Somalia from Minnesota continue to be a matter of grave concern and the FBI remains fully committed to resolving this situation.”
- Al Shabaab posted a series of Twitter messages on October 31 stating that Hurricane Sandy is a consequence for rejecting Islam. Al Shabaab added that people should embrace Islam in order to find safety from Hurricane Sandy.
- Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, addressed Uganda’s threat to withdraw from Somalia in an interview on November 2. Rage called the Uganda’s threat to withdraw “purely hypocritical” and “intended to deceive the Ugandan public.” In the same interview, Rage accused the United Nations of trying to colonize Somalia.
- A delegation of United Nations officials visited Beledweyne in Hiraan region on November 5. The officials from the United Nations Department of Security and Safety (UNDSS) toured military bases and government offices. UNDSS officials also held meetings with AMISOM personnel to discuss the security situation.
- Al Shabaab militants arrested 20 people on November 5 in Bardhere town in Gedo region. The 20 arrested individuals are suspected of selling qat, a narcotic leaf that is banned in al Shabaab controlled regions.
- Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon appointed ten new ministers for his cabinet on November 4. PM Shirdon’s appointments were well received by the European Union and the United States government. In related events, Mohamed Jawari, speaker of the Somali National Assembly, urged Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon to bring his newly appointed cabinet to parliament before November 17 to receive approval.
- Somali security forces arrested ten suspected al Shabaab militants in Qansah-dhere town in Bay region on November 4. Local sources added that security forces received a tip from residents in the town and raided several locations where they found the suspected al Shabaab militants.
- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman in Mogadishu on November 4. Both parties discussed how to strengthen diplomatic relations and cooperation between Somalia and the United States.
- A grenade attack at a church in Garissa, Kenya near the Somali border killed one person and wounded several more on November 4. The attack reportedly targeted Kenyan police officers gathering at a church. A total of eleven people were wounded in the attack.
- A roadside blast killed at least four AMISOM troops in Kismayo on November 5. Local sources reported that the attack targeted AMISOM troops traveling near Kismayo airport. Kenyan soldiers serving with AMISOM blocked off the site of the explosion and began searching for the suspected assailants.
- Al Shabaab reportedly attacked locations in Kismayo with mortars on November 4. The attacks occurred at a port area in Kismayo. Local sources reported the attacks may have resulted in casualties.