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: More violence erupts in Sana’a and Taiz; President Saleh welcomes UN Resolution; Yemeni government and defected General Ahmar sign ceasefire truce; jihadist cites success of jihadist movement against West; journalist documents experiences with AQAP in Abyan governorate; military plane crashes in Lahij; Uzbek doctor kidnapped in Ma’rib
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab calls on Burundi to withdraw troops from Somalia; gunmen kidnap two aid workers in Somalia; TFG president denounces Kenyan intervention; TFG soldier kills woman; al Shabaab arrests traders in Elasha Biyaha; drone strikes in Lower Jubba; foreign terrorists training in Somali; Kenyan police stop Kismayo-bound ship; second grenade attack in Nairobi kills one person
Yemen Security Brief
- Medics and witnesses reported that government troops opened fire on thousands of protesters who were marching towards al Qaa district in Sana’a, killing two people and injuring at least 40 others. Clashes between government troops and troops from defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar’s First Armored Division erupted north of Tagheer (Change) Square, following the earlier incident. In Taiz, clashes between government troops and anti-government tribesmen killed four civilians and wounded at least seven others, according to medics. Witnesses also reported shelling in neighborhoods, causing damage to several homes and forcing schools to shut down.
- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh welcomed a United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution to ending the conflict in Yemen. The resolution calls on President Saleh to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) transition deal. President Saleh praised the UN resolution for its "support for the Presidential decree of 12 September which is designed to find a political agreement acceptable to all parties, and to ensure a peaceful and democratic transition of power, including the holding of early Presidential elections." He also affirmed his readiness to hold discussions with the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) on how to implement the GCC initiative.
- The Yemeni government and defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar signed a ceasefire truce in which both sides agreed to release people kidnapped during the last months of protests. The deal was brokered by a local committee headed by Yemeni Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi.
- A jihadist post titled, “They can’t stop us,” on Ansar al Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF), stated that the killing of al Qaeda leaders, and most notably, the killing of Yemeni-American Islamist cleric Anwar al Awlaki, will not stop the jihadist movement against the United States. He cites al Qaeda’s success in bringing the United States into what he calls a war of “attrition” that has led to domestic problems in the country. The post also stated that jihadists are winning the war on terror psychologically and that for every three people of “ours” that the U.S. kills, twenty more join the fight in the struggle against “them,” referring to the U.S.
- Yemeni journalist Abdul Razzaq al Jamal published an article about his experiences with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters in Abyan governorate, on the Yemeni newspaper’s al Wasat website. The article cited AQAP’s security procedures and rules regarding avoiding enemy aircraft. The first rules were to turn off all mobile devices, and secondly, to not stand in one place if the aircraft was American, as to avoid being struck by it. Other rules included that no more than three fighters can gather in one place at a given time and to “recite the remembrance prayers.” Jamal said the U.S. estimate of about 300 al Qaeda fighters in Yemen is grossly underestimated since number of al Qaeda fighters present in Abyan governorate alone conflicts with this estimate. The article also mentions the book “The Management of Savagery,” written by “Abu Bakr Naji” which has been used somewhat as a manual for AQAP fighters.
- A military source reported that a Yemeni military cargo plane crashed as it was landing at al Anad base in Lahij governorate, killing nine passengers, including eight Syrian engineers.
- Tribal sources reported that tribesmen kidnapped an Uzbek doctor from a taxi headed to Sana’a in the al Hilan area of Ma’rib governorate. A security official said that the tribesmen are demanding the release of one of their tribesmen who has been in government custody.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab released a statement, entitled “Mogadishu Massacre: A Message to Burundi,” in which the group boasts of killing more than 150 Burundian troops. The Burundians were reportedly killed in what al Shabaab terms a “massacre” during recent fighting in Daynile district of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab claims that its change in tactics has been successful and blames Burundian troops for several atrocities. The statement ends with a call for the Burundians to withdraw from Somalia: “You now have a choice to make. Either you call for the immediate withdrawal of your troops from our country or you shall receive the bodies of your remaining sons delivered to you in bags. Think long. Think hard. Think of your son’s [sic] futures.”
- Gunmen kidnapped a 32-year-old American woman and a 60-year-old Danish man, who worked for Danish Demining Group, in Galkayo in the central Mugud region. Ahmed Mohamed, a police officer in Galkayo, said that the abduction happened as the two crossed into the southern portion of the city controlled by the Galmudug clan.
- Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced during a visit to the captured parts of the Daynile district in Mogadishu that the Kenyan intervention in southern Somalia is unnecessary and that the TFG and the Somali people disprove of Kenya’s presence. He suggested that all Kenyan actions first be approved by the TFG. Ahmed welcomed Kenyan logistical support and training, however.
- A TFG soldier shot and killed a woman in Medina (Wadajir) district in Mogadishu. The incident occurred during a rush for food aid. The TFG has not released a statement regarding the incident.
- Al Shabaab arrested at least 21 prominent traders in Elasha Biyaha for reportedly trying to cross from al Shabaab-controlled territory to TFG-controlled areas. Al Shabaab ordered those arrested to pay fines.
- Airstrikes have reportedly targeted al Shabaab bases in Lower Jubba region and in the port city of Kismayo. Al Shabaab leaders were meeting in Kismayo. Airstrikes also hit the seaport and airport. Locals report several al Shabaab casualties.
- General Carter Ham, Commander of AFRICOM, said that foreign terrorists are training in Somalia for “violent jihad.” Ham said, “If you ask me what keeps me up at night, it is the thought of an American passport holding person who transits to a training camp in Somalia, gets some skill and finds their way back to the United States to attack Americans here in the homeland.”
- Kenyan maritime police intercepted a ship travelling from Kenya’s Mombasa port to the al Shabaab-controlled port in Kismayo with a cargo of tea leaves. Kenyan police spokesman Wellington Choka confirmed that they were holding the ship and seven crew members. He also confirmed that the ship was carrying tea leaves, but said “We are questioning them to know whether it is true they were only going to sell the tea leaves as they purport or they had another mission.” Kenyan authorities have banned any movement or trade with Somalia since they closed the border.
- An unknown assailant threw a grenade at a Nairobi bus stop killing one person and wounding several others. This attack came after a grenade attack at a Nairobi nightclub earlier that morning. Kenyan Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere says that no one has been arrested yet in connection with the attacks, but the police are “following crucial leads to get the attacker and the motive behind this.” Al Shabaab has threatened attacks against civilians in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya’s operations in southern Somalia.