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: Britain’s deputy ambassador escapes attack in Sana’a; French manager of OMV killed outside Sana’a; attack on the home of Yemen’s Prime Minister fails; General Yahya Saleh welcomes future U.S. airstrikes against al Qaeda; William Burns praises Yemeni counterterrorism efforts

Horn of Africa: Both sides claim victory over recent clashes in Mogadishu; Somali foreign minister calls for international help in defeating al Shabaab; pirates threaten to slaughter hostages if their demands are not met; al Shabaab is spreading its ideology in Kenya; al Shabaab arrests 30 in Hiraan region for shaving off their beards

Yemen Security Brief

  • Unknown assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a convoy carrying Fiona Gibb, Britain’s deputy ambassador, in Sana’a on Wednesday.  The car was taking five staff members, including Ms. Gibb, to the embassy when it came under fire.  One embassy official is undergoing treatment for minor injuries sustained in the attack and all others were unharmed.  British foreign secretary William Hague said the “shameful attack…will only redouble Britain’s determination to work with the government of Yemen to help address the challenges the country faces.”[1]
  • The French manager of Austrian oil and gas company OMV was shot and killed outside Sana’a.  A Yemeni security official reported that the attacker was believed to be a security guard at the company’s compound, but said that the motive was still unclear.[2]
  • Unknown people threw a grenade at the home of Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar from a car on Sunday, revealed official sources.  The blast occurred some distance away from the intended target, and no casualties or damage were caused.[3]
  • General Yahya Abdullah Saleh, head of Yemen’s counterterrorism unit, said in an interview with CNN that Yemen would welcome U.S. airstrikes against al Qaeda if needed in the future.  Saleh said, “There are times when we need help in the field of counterterrorism…so why not get assistance from others?”[4]
  • In a press conference during his visit to Yemen this week, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns praised Yemen’s counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  Burns said, “Terrorism is a real challenge facing Yemen and we believe that the capacity of the Yemeni security forces has been rising steadily.”[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Both al Shabaab and the TFG, backed by AMISOM forces, claim victory in the recent fighting in Mogadishu.  Al Shabaab claims that they killed a Burundian AMISOM soldier and would put his body on public display.  AMISOM spokesman Major Bahuko regards this claim as “baseless propaganda.”[6]
  • In a speech in Nairobi, Somali Foreign Minister Yusuf Abrahim called for international action to help Somalia defeat al Shabaab.  Abrahim said that defeating al Shabaab would have the dual positive effects of reducing the chance of the insurgents exporting suicide bombers to other countries and allowing the TFG to have credible elections in August of 2011.[7]
  • Frustrated with the non-compliance with their demands, the pirates who currently have 24 hostages aboard the MV Iceberg 1 off the coast of Somalia have threatened worse for the captives.  Communicating via text messages, one of the hostages said, “If they don’t get their ransom ASAP they will slaughter us and remove our kidneys and hearts which are even higher cost than the ransom they are requesting.”[8]
  • Al Shabaab has been spreading its Islamist ideology in Somali communities in Kenya.  An Iman from Eastleigh said, “Their influence has been growing more, day after day.”  By spreading its religious and political message, the group encourages locals to return to Somalia and fight for al Shabaab.[9]
  • Al Shabaab militants in Hiraan region took more than 30 people into custody on Tuesday for shaving off their beards.  Al Shabaab has arrested these people claiming that they have violated Islamist law.[10]

[1] “Britain’s Number 2 Diplomat Escapes Attack in Yemen,” AP, October 6, 2010. Available:
[2] “Gunman Shoots Dead Frenchman in Yemen,” AP, October 6, 2010. Available:
[3] “Grenade Attack on Yemen’s Prime Minister Fails,” News Yemen, October 5, 2010. Available:
[4] “Gen. Yahya Saleh: Yemen is Open to U.S. Airstrikes Against al-Qaeda,” Yemen Observer, October 6, 2010. Available:
[5] “U.S. Undersecretary of State Discusses Bilateral Issues in Yemen, Iraq, Jordan,” Yemen Observer, October 6, 2010. Available:
[6] “Calm Returns to Somali Capital,” Mareeg Online, October 6, 2010. Available:
[7] “Interview: Somali FM Calls for Global Action on Militant Groups,” Xinhua Net, October 6, 2010. Available:
[8] “Somali Pirates Issue Final Ultimatum,” Ghana Web, October 6, 2010. Available:
[9] “Somalia’s Al-Shabab Spreads Its Message in Kenya,” NPR, October 6, 2010. Available:
[10] “Al Shabaab Arrests 30 People for Shaving Their Beards,” All Headline News, October 6, 2010. Available:'s%20Al%20Shabaab%20Arrests%2030%20People%20For%20Shaving%20Beard
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