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: Yemeni security forces kill 11 al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan governorate; attacks by Republican Guard troops kill one civilian in Taiz; assassination attempt against defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar foiled; President Saleh makes appeal for peace in Eid al Adha address; jihadist calls for distribution of Awlaki’s media archive on social-networking sites
Horn of Africa: Grenade attack on church kills two people near Garissa; Kenyan police vehicle hits landmine in Dadaab refugee camp; Kenya threatens Eritrea over arms smuggling accusations; fighting erupts between Somaliland forces and clan militia; al Shabaab implements curfew in Hudur; Bay elders speak out against al Shabaab vaccine ban; al Shabaab arrests clerics and elders in Kismayo; Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys speaks at Eid al Adha service
Yemen Security Brief
- The 25th mechanized brigade shelled a militant position in Zinjibar on November 4, killing five al Qaeda-linked militants. One of the militants was reportedly Saudi and another was Iraqi. Fighting also took place in the Dofes area, west of Zinjibar, but no casualties were reported. In Bajdar, east of Zinjibar, fighting killed six militants and at least three soldiers. It is unclear whether the soldiers were from a unit of the 25th mechanized brigade or the 119th armored brigade.
- Witnesses reported that attacks by Republican Guard troops killed one person and injured two others in Taiz, on November 5. Witnesses added that Republican Guard troops positioned themselves on Jamal Street and launched attacks for a period of three hours, resulting in the damage of 45 houses in the area.
- The defected First Armored Division issued a statement claiming that it foiled an attempt by the Yemeni Intelligence Agency to assassinate its commander, defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, on November 4. The statement said, "A counter-espionage unit of the First Armored Division found remote-detonated explosives concealed inside a pick-up car parking late on Saturday near the office of General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar." It also added that the perpetrators of this plot admitted during an interrogation that they were hired over a month ago by high-ranking officials in Yemen’s National Security Agency and Republican Guards to carry out the assassination.
- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh made an appeal to the opposition for a peaceful transition of power based on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative in an address marking the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha in Sana’a on November 4. Saleh urged the opposition to "sit at the negotiating table to resolve disputed questions related to the implementation." He also said that “his resignation from office and the transfer of power will not be carried out if the opposition rebels and their supporters of the defected army continue to wage violence against government institutions and state troops.”
- A jihadist urged fellow male jihadist forum members to distribute the media works of slain radical Yemeni-American Islamist cleric, on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in a post on the radical Islamist web forum, Shumukh al Islam, on November 4. The distribution initiative is called, “Invasion of the Martyr Anwar al-Awlaki on Twitter." The jihadist stated that the goal behind the distribution of Awlaki’s media archive is to spread his messages in an attempt to increase the number of mujahedeen and to “anger the enemies” that had eradicated Awlaki’s messages from the Internet. The post calls on members to link their Facebook and Twitter accounts so that they may “invade both sites concurrently” with Awlaki’s media works.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A grenade attack on a church near Garissa in Kenya’s North Eastern province killed two people and wounded three others. A second explosive thrown at a taxi stand failed to explode. Investigations are underway to see if the attacks were related to al Shabaab.
- A Kenyan police vehicle ran over a landmine, which was concealed in the ground and failed to explode, in Dadaab refugee camp’s Hagadera camp. District Commissioner Ndambuki Muthike said that, “The police land-cruiser was escorting the morning U.N. convoy to Hagadera camp." Kenyan police are investigating the attack. Also near the Hagadera camp, the Kenyan military reported two additional attacks: a timed roadside bomb near the patrol base that detonated prematurely and an attack on a police camp involving thirty al Shabaab militants. The militants were eventually forced to retreat and the Kenyan military reported that there were no casualties.
- On November 4, Eritrea’s foreign ministry published a second statement denying its involvement in arming al Shabaab. Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula had met with the Eritrean ambassador to discuss the allegations and warned that if they proved to be true, Kenya had a “series of options” available to take against Eritrea.
- Clashes broke out between Somaliland security forces and local clan militia fighters in Eri Gabo in Sanaag region. The fighting began the evening of November 5 with artillery fire. At least four people were killed and dozens more were injured. Somaliland forces forced the clan fighters to retreat and imposed a curfew on the town.
- Al Shabaab imposed a curfew between evening prayer and the dawn prayer in Hudur, the capital of Bakool region, in response to nearby Somali government troop maneuvers in Yed and Elbarde districts. Adan Yare, the local al Shabaab leader, said that al Shabaab would take “decisive measures” against any Transitional Federal Government (TFG) sympathizers.
- Elders in Bay region condemned al Shabaab’s ban on a child vaccination program sponsored by World Health Organization (WHO). One of the elders, Malaq Issack, called the measure inhumane and said that a number of elders tried to persuade al Shabaab of the importance of the vaccines. Al Shabaab claimed that the vaccination program was a secret sterilization program to prevent the Muslim population from growing. Local sources suggested that the group demanded $15,000 from the WHO.
- Al Shabaab militants in Kismayo arrested several clerics and elders, accusing them of conducting a separate Eid prayer service in defiance of a mandate by al Shabaab that all residents attend a prayer session in Wamo Stadium.
- Senior al Shabaab leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys spoke at the Eid al Adha prayer in Alamada area outside of Mogadishu. Aweys said that clan leaders had rejected al Shabaab’s call for support and that many supported the TFG.