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: Al Qaeda militants kill Yemeni intelligence officer in Hadramawt; 30,000 soldiers deployed to Aden for Gulf Cup security; Yemeni foreign minister estimates that 400 al Qaeda militants are active in Yemen; manhunt for al Qaeda elements begins in Shabwah; clip of Anwar al Awlaki released on jihadist forums; eight suspects arrest in Aden for stadium bombing attempt; security official killed in Hajjah governorate; Qatari commission begins implementation of al Houthi rebel ceasefire agreement; Southern Movement leader narrowly escapes bomb attack on his car; Interpol-hunted drug dealer arrested in Yemen; 6 dead after fighting between two tribes in Sana’a; New York congressman asks YouTube to ban videos featuring Anwar al Awlaki; UNHCR convoy stopped on its way to a Somali refugee camp in Lahij

Horn of Africa: Conflict arises between President and Speaker of Parliament over PM approval; Somali government calls for release of British couple one year after their capture by Somali pirates; jihadist forum member killed in Mogadishu fighting; 12 dead and 20 injured in fighting in Mogadishu; Atom believed to be hiding in Somaliland; al Shabaab imposing family tax in Kismayo; AU accuses UN of increasing reliance on African peacekeeping forces without increasing resources; al Shabaab displayed Ugandan AMISOM soldier in streets of Mogadishu; people protest Islamist insurgency in Mogadishu; Hizb al Islam willing to being talks with TFG on certain conditions; UN Security Council calls on TFG to stop infighting; Somali pirates attack 2 ships off of Kenyan coast; twelve Somali pirates begin their trial in Yemen

Yemen Security Brief

  • Suspected al Qaeda militants killed Yemeni intelligence Lt. Colonel Abdul Aziz Abu Abed on Friday in front of his home in Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate.  This attack is the latest is dozens in recent weeks against local security and government officials throughout Yemen.[1]
  • An additional 30,000 soldiers have been sent to Aden to increase security for next month’s Gulf Cup football tournament.  According to Lt. General Saleh al Zouari the troops will be responsible for conducting security sweeps as well as providing protection for the participants and spectators at the event.[2]
  • Yemen’s foreign minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi estimates that there are 400 al Qaeda militants active in Yemen.  According to al Qirbi, the militants “seek to cause chaos and disruption.”[3]
  • Yemeni security forces have begun clearance operations in Said district of Shabwah governorate.  The governor of Shabwah and the Awlaki tribe signed an agreement with the government to “expel al Qaeda elements from their territories and mount a joint operation with the army (to do so).”[4]
  • On Saturday a minute and a half Arabic-language video clip of radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki was released on jihadist forums.  The lecture is entitled, “And to Make it Known and Clear to Mankind.”[5]
  • Eight suspects have been arrested in Aden for attempts to bomb the stadium that will host the Gulf Cup Football tournament next month.  One 30-year old suspect who was caught with 1,800 grams of dynamite and a detonator confessed to planning an attack, according to the interior ministry.[6]
  • Ali Abdullah Wahan, Deputy Director of Investigations, was killed in Kushr district in Hajjah governorate on Monday morning by unidentified gunmen.  Wahan was killed outside of the police compound in Hajjah on his way to his office.[7]
  • The Qatari commission charged with the oversight of the ceasefire between the al Houthi rebels and the government in Sana’a has begun to implement the 22-term ceasefire signed in February of this year.  During a recent meeting with both sides, the Qatari commission established eight panels to oversee the ceasefire, beginning this weekend in Sa’ada governorate and Harf Sufyan district in Amran governorate.[8]
  • Mohsin al Twairah, a leader of the Southern Movement, narrowly escaped a bomb attack on his car in Jabal al Raidah in Halmeen district in Lahij governorate.  The “sticky” bomb, which was most likely detonated by remote control, exploded underneath al Twairah’s parked Toyota early Saturday morning.  No one was injured in the attack.[9]
  • A drug dealer wanted by Yemen and Saudi Arabia and being hunted by Interpol was arrested in Amran governorate on Saturday, according to governorate security director Abdullah Dabwan.[10]
  • Fighting between the Bani Dabyan and al Sahman tribes in Sana’a on Saturday left six people dead.  The fighting began when a gunman killed the leader of Bani Dabyan, al Damani al Salmini, on Friday.[11]
  • New York congressman Anthony Weiner sent a letter to the chief executive of YouTube asking him to remove all videos of radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki from the website.  Weiner said that Awlaki and his videos pose a “clear and present danger to American citizens.”[12]
  • A convoy carrying a delegation from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and senior Yemeni officials was intercepted by dozens of separatist gunmen on its way to a Somali refugee camp in Kharaz area in Lahij.   The gunmen forced the convoy to drive back to Hawta.  There were no casualties reported, and the gunmen allegedly demanded that their clansmen be released Yemeni prisons.[13]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The speaker of the TFG Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden released a press release denouncing President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed for intervening in what he believes are the tasks of the lawmakers, after Ahmed accused the speaker of not approving the new Prime Minister.  Ahmed released a statement saying, “The 1960 constitution decreed the assembly should express confidence or no confidence in the prime minister in an open vote requiring a simple majority…Therefore, I call upon the speaker of Parliament to uphold the law and to not obstruct lawmakers from discharging their solemn constitutional duties.”  Aden, on the other hand, believes that the Constitution calls for a vote to be conducted in secret.[14]
  • A year after their capture by Somali pirates, the Somali government is calling for the release of a British couple taken near the Seychelles on October 23, 2009.  Minister of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman said in a statement, “The responsibility for this outrage lies with the criminals who disrupt this strategic shipping line around our waters.”  A Somali pirate called Qodar has said that they are ready to begin negotiations for the release of the couple, but that they will not release the hostages until the ransom is paid.[15]
  • A message posted on the forum of the Mujahideen E-Network on October 20, 2010 reported that a member of the al Fallujah forum was killed in Shibis district in Mogadishu as a result of an AMISOM mortar strike.  The forum member Abu al Ayna was a commander of a fighting front in Mogadishu.[16]
  • Fighting in Mogadishu between al Shabaab and the TFG has left 12 dead and 20 injured.  Fighting erupted in Bondhere after al Shabaab attacked a TFG base and in Wardhigley following an al Shabaab attack on Villa Somalia.  There was also fighting between the two forces in Hodan district.[17]
  • Mohammed Said Atom, an arms smuggler tied to al Shabaab and wanted by the Puntland government, is reportedly hiding in Somaliland.  Atom, who was the leader of the militants stationed in Puntland’s Galgala hills, fled the area before Puntland forces took control of the Galgala insurgent outposts last week.  According to Garowe’s source, “Atom is living in Burao and Somaliland authorities have not taken any active steps against him.”[18]
  • Al Shabaab’s administration in the southern seaport Kismayo has imposed a monthly family tax on residents of Kismayo to aid in their fight against the TFG.  The tax will be levied according to the type of shelter in which the family lives and runs between $3.50 and $10.00.[19]
  • Tensions arose at last week’s meeting of the UN Security Council as the AU cited the increasing reliance on African nations in peacekeeping roles and the lack of resources being allocated to meet these increasing demands.  Nigerian foreign minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia said, “”Too frequently, AU member states are able to muster sufficient troop numbers to address crisis situations, only to have a lack of equipment and logistical support let them down… These demands upon the AU far outweigh its resources and capacities to effectively respond.”[20]
  • Following clashes between TFG and al Shabaab forces in Mogadishu on Sunday, al Shabaab left the body of an African soldier on display in the streets that al Shabaab claimed to be a Ugandan soldier.  Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohammed Rage said, “One of the dead bodies is here today so that all Muslims can witness the enemy loss with their own eyes.”  AMISOM denies al Shabaab’s claim, but a spokesman said, “We will continue our mission even if they kill a hundred of our soldiers because we are here for a reason.”[21]
  • The TFG’s Ministry of Information released a statement saying that “thousands of people” demonstrated against the Islamist insurgency in Somalia in a government-organized rally  at Gen. Kahie Police Academy in Hamar Jabjab district of Mogadishu on Saturday.  The statement said that the protesters rallied to, “show their anger and frustration against the ongoing atrocities by the militant groups.”  Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar, the Interior Minister, said, “Everyone has a role in bringing peace to the country.  The security forces can do little if people do not work with them.  We, therefore, ask the public to boldly take their role.”[22]
  • Hizb al Islam announced on Saturday that it is open to negotiations with the TFG on the condition that AMISOM troops leave the country.  Sheikh Hassan Mahdi, a high-ranking official in Hizb al Islam, said, “We need to go to the negotiations table, we need reconciliation.”[23]
  • At a meeting of the UN Security Council last week, the delegation urged the TFG to work on promoting unity within the government.  A statement released by the council called on the TFG to “ensure cohesion, remain united and redouble its efforts on reconciliation and the completion of the remaining transitional tasks, in particular the constitution-making process.”[24]
  • Somali pirates attacked a German trade ship on its way from the United Arab Emirates to South Africa east of Mombasa Kenya on Sunday.  This followed a pirate attack on a ship from Singapore on Saturday.  After these most recent attacks, Somali pirates are now holding 19 ships hostage off the Somali shores.[25]
  • Twelve Somali pirates arrested in May, 2010 began their trial in Hadramawt governorate in Yemen on Sunday.  The men are accused of hijacking Yemeni boats and using them to mount piracy attacks against international vessels.[26]

[1] “Yemen: Alleged al-Qaida Kill Intelligence Officer,” AP, October 22, 2010. Available:
[2] “Yemen Beefs Up Security Ahead of Gulf Cup,” AP, October 22, 2010. Available:
[3] “Yemen Estimates 400 al-Qaida Militants in Country,” AP, October 24, 2010. Available:
[4] “Yemen in al Qaeda Manhunt as U.S. Preacher Appears in Tape,” Reuters, October 24, 2010. Available:
[5] “Portion of Anwar al-Awlaki Video Posted Online,” SITE Intel Group, October 23, 2010.  Available on SITE.
[6] “Yemen Says Foiled Bomb Plots Ahead of Football Cup,” Reuters, October 23, 2010. Available:
[7] “Deputy Director of Investigations Killed in Hajah,” Yemen Post, October 25, 2010. Available:
[8] “Qatari Commission Commences Task in North Yemen,” Yemen Post, October 25, 2010. Available:
[9] “Southern Movement Leader Narrowly Escape Car Bombing,” Yemen Post, October 24, 2010. Available:
[10] “Yemen Arrests Notorious Interpol-Hunted Drug Dealer,” Yemen Post, October 24, 2010. Available:
[11] “Six People Killed in Tribal Conflict in Sana’a,” Yemen News, October 23, 2010. Available:
[12] “U.S. Congressman Calls for YouTube to Remove Videos Featuring Militant,” CNN, October 25, 2010. Available:
[13] “Separatist Gunmen Intercept UNHCR Officials in South Yemen,” Xinhua News, October 23, 2010. Available:
[14] “Widen Dispute Between Somali President and Speaker Over Approval of PM,” Garowe Online, October 25, 2010. Available:
[15] “Somali Govt Asks Pirates to Release British Couple,” Fox News, October 22, 2010. Available:
“Somali Pirates Say They Would Release Chandlers if Ransom Paid,” Mareeg Online, October 25, 2010. Available:
[16] “Jihadist Reports Death of Forum Member in Mogadishu,” SITE Intel Group, October 21, 2010. Available on SITE.
[17] “Clashes Killed People 20 in Somali Capital,” Garowe Online, October 23, 2010. Available: ; “Government Soldiers, AMISOM, Clash with Al Shabaab Fighters in Mogadishu,” Mareeg Online, October 24, 2010. Available:
[18] “Somalia: Al Shabaab Rebel Atom ‘Hiding in Somaliland’: Report,” Garowe Online, October 23, 2010. Available:
[19] “Somalia: Al-Shabab Imposes New Rules at Houses in Kismayo,” Somaliweyn, October 23, 2010. Available:
[20] “Tension Over Poor Peace Force Support,” AP, October 25, 2010. Available:
[21] “Somali Fighters Display Soldier’s Body in Mogadishu,” AFP, October 24, 2010. Available:
[22] “Mogadishu on the Move: Residents Protest Against Militants,” ReliefWeb, October 23, 2010.  Available:
 “Hundreds Rally in Mogadishu Against Islamist Insurgency,” Xinhua Net, October 24, 2010. Available:
[23] “Somalia’s Hizbul Islam: We Will Negotiate With Government, With a Condition,” All Headline News, October 23, 2010. Available:,%20%20With%20A%20Condition
[24] “U.N. Calls for Somali Unity,”, October 22, 2010. Available:
[25] “Somali Pirates Seize 2 Vessels off Kenya,” All Headline News, October 24, 2010. Available:
[26] “12 Africans Start Yemen Trial on Piracy Charges,” Yemen Post, October 25, 2010. Available:
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