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: Five militants killed in Yemeni airstrike in Abyan governorate; two Yemeni soldiers killed in militant attack on a convoy headed to Mudia in Abyan governorate; two al Qaeda militants killed in thwarted suicide attack on military convoy; AQAP may be planning an attack on France; one al Qaeda suspect arrested, award announced for arrest of eight other suspects; Australia warns citizens against travelling to Yemen; British embassy in Sana’a to close due to security concerns; al Qaeda bomb maker sentenced to death; man arrested in Sana’a airport on charges of financing AQAP
Horn of Africa: 11 dead in TFG offensive in Bakool region; 20 killed and 30 injured in fighting between Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and al Shabaab in Dhusamareb; Hizb al Islam and al Shabaab clash in Bakara market, 5 militants dead; 8 dead after TFG and al Shabaab fight in Beledweyne; TFG forces recapture town of Beled Hawo; al Shabaab will prohibit the use of money transfer services; AU calls for a no-fly zone into Somalia and a blockade of seaports; kidnapped British aid worker is reportedly doing well; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a vows to attack Adado again; TFG offers a reward for information leading to the capture of al Shabaab leaders; Somali pirates hijack South Korean fishing vessel; two men arrested in Sweden charged with planning terrorist attacks in Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- Yemeni warplanes bombed al Qaeda hideouts in Abyan governorate, killing five militants, according to Abyan’s deputy governor Salih al Shamsi. The strikes targeted areas around the town of Mudia and destroyed weapons caches. Shamsi denied civilian deaths, despite residents’ claims that three civilians were killed and six houses destroyed in the attacks, saying the town had been evacuated before the mission.
- 30 armed militants believed to be members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ambushed a military convoy en route to Mudia district in Abyan governorate Saturday. The militants attacked the convoy with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and automatic guns. Two soldiers were killed and others were injured. There are reports that two tanks and three military vehicles were destroyed in the attack. The Yemeni air force responded by executing airstrikes on al Dhama’a village in Abyan governorate, causing residents to flee to nearby towns.
- Two suspected al Qaeda militants were killed on Saturday when they tried to attack a military convoy on its way to reinforce troops searching for AQAP operatives in Mudia in Abyan governorate. Yemeni troops destroyed the militants’ explosive-laden car, killing the two men before they could execute a suicide attack.
- French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux reportedly received intelligence from Saudi officials that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may be planning an attack in France or Europe. He said that France had received “a new message from the Saudi services telling [France] that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was without doubt active, or planned to be active” in the region, “and notable, [in] France.” Hortefeux, who met with Yemeni President Saleh last week, said, “The threat is real and our vigilance is total.”
- The Yemeni Ministry of the Interior reported that security officials arrested al Qaeda suspect Hani Ali Mohammed al Thuraya during a pursuit of the men who killed a local security official in Mudia district in Abyan governorate. Upon arrest, al Thuraya was in possession of hand grenades, a wireless communication device, and explosives. After the arrest, the Yemeni Interior Ministry published the names and pictures of eight al Qaeda suspects, urging the public to assist in their arrest and offering a 20 million Yemeni riyal (nearly $100,000) reward for any information pertaining to their whereabouts. The Interior Ministry added that these suspects had been led astray by others. They are: Ameen Abdullah Abdul Rehamn al Othmani, Bashir Mohammed Ahmed al Hulaisi, Shawki Ali Ahmed al Badani, Abdul Elah Ali Kasem al Mesbahi, Abdul Hamid Ahmed al Jaishi, Mohammed Ali Abdullah al Nashiri, Musleh Abdullah Ahmed al Hulaisi, and Yousef Ahmed Muthna Ziyod.
- Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement posted on October 15, “We advise you not to travel to Yemen at this time because of the very high threat of terrorist attack and volatile security situation. . . . If you are in Yemen, you should consider leaving.” This statement came days after the French government urged its citizens to leave Yemen.
- The British embassy in Sana’a announced that it would be closing for an indefinite amount of time due to the security situation in Yemen. A statement released by the embassy read, “In light of the terrorist attack on 6 October, the British embassy in Sana’a has withdrawn some staff whilst we put additional security measures in place.”
- Saleh al Shawish, an AQAP militant, was sentenced to death by Yemeni courts for his involvement in terrorist attacks and manufacturing explosives. Saleh, who was arrested in February, vowed that al Qaeda would seek revenge on the Yemeni government after receiving his sentence, “starting in Abyan.”
- Saleh al Raymi was arrested at the Sana’a airport on charges of financing al Qaeda. Raymi, who lives in Saudi Arabia, was arrested as he arrived in Sana’a on a flight from Saudi Arabia.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The TFG launched a new offensive in the Bakool region near the Ethiopian border on Sunday, reportedly killing 11 al Shabaab militants on its first day. The Ministry of Information reported that one government soldier had been killed in the fighting. Somali troops recaptured the Beled Hawo district near the Kenyan border, and Somalia’s Minster of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman said, “Forces will continue their struggle until they liberate the entire region from the brutal rule of al Shabaab.”
- 20 people were killed and 30 others injured in fighting between Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and al Shabaab in the town of Dhusamareb in central Somalia. Reports indicate that, although the town was under al Shabaab control for a few hours, it is now back in the hands of Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a. Dhusamareb is a strategic town in the Galgudud region that is on a major road linking Mogadishu to the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
- Hizb al Islam and al Shabaab militants clashed in Bakara market after tensions rose regarding taxations imposed by both groups on civilian vehicles at Bakara bus stops, a source of funding for both groups. Five militants were killed in the clashes.
- Fighting between al Shabaab militants and TFG soldiers in Beledweyne, the capital of Hiraan region, killed at least eight people, mostly civilians. Al Shabaab spokesman Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab said, “We snatched military vehicle, we killed dozen Somali government.” Reports indicate that al Shabaab is now in control of the areas where the fighting occurred.
- TFG forces recaptured the town of Beled Hawo in Gedo region on the Kenyan border from al Shabaab. Government spokesman Mohamed Abdi Kalil said, “Residents were applauding with happiness after they saw the national army back in town after living under the tough regime of the al Shabaab.” Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters reportedly assisted the government troops.
- Al Shabaab announced that the use of mobile money transfer services will no longer be permitted in areas under its control. A statement from al Shabaab’s political office said that the service is harmful to the Somali economy because, “The service was masterminded by Western companies, who want to bolster their economy by destroying ours.” Somalia’s major telecommunications companies were given three months to discontinue use of the service.
- The African Union Peace and Security Council called upon the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone into Somalia and to block seaports. At the African Union meeting held on October 15 in Addis Ababa, the Peace and Security Council also announced that more troops would be deployed to Somalia in the coming weeks and acknowledged the 20,000 troops proposed by IGAD as an official AU target. The first battalion from Burundi will be deployed in the next few weeks.
- The British aid worker kidnapped in Western Somalia on Friday is being treated well, according to a spokeswoman from Save the Children. While she declined to say how she received the information about the Briton, spokeswoman Anna Ford said, “We can confirm he is being looked after and he is in good health… But we are still extremely concerned about him.” The aid worker is reportedly being held by a local clan.
- After withdrawing from the town of Adado in Mudug region, Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a has vowed to attack the town again. According to the group’s spokesman Sheikh Abdurrahman Abu Yusuf al Qadi, they will attack again because, “The district has become a gateway for the elements which are very harmful to the security and stability of the region.”
- The TFG issued a written statement calling on citizens to provide the government with any information pertaining to the location or identity of al Shabaab top officials, al Shabaab training camps, places where explosives are assembled, or places where vehicles for suicide missions are stored. The government is offering a reward for any substantial information.
- Somali pirates hijacked a South Korean fishing vessel off the coast of Kenya. The ship has 39 crew members from Kenya, two from Korea, and two from China.
- Two men with al Shabaab links arrested in Sweden this May and June were charged with planning terrorist attacks in Somalia. One of the men is a Swedish citizen, and the nationality of the other is not known.