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: Officials say Saleh will not return to Sana’a; AQAP leadership sighted in Shabwah governorate; White House weighs terror fight strategy
Horn of Africa: Air attack near Kismayo; TFG joins search for kidnapped Brit; TFG forces stop Turkish aid group; TFG MP vows to push militants out of Bay and Bakool; al Shabaab prevents refugees from crossing into Kenya; TFG opens military training site
Yemen Security Brief
- Officials in Saudi Arabia and Yemen say that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not return to Yemen and will instead, stay in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The U.S. State Department issued a statement that it believes President Saleh will likely sign the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) transition deal within a week.
- Local sources claim that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leaders have been seen in Shabwah governorate. Sources identified AQAP leaders Said al Shihri, Fahd al Quso and Qasim al Raymi along with several of their Saudi, Egyptian, and Somali comrades. The governor of Lahij governorate also reported that some wounded al Qaeda-linked militants were being treated in hospitals in Lahij following fierce battles with the Yemeni military in Abyan governorate.
- The White House is debating the legality of and limits on the use of lethal force against Islamist militants in Yemen and Somalia. The current administration policy is to attack only “high-value individuals” based in the Gulf of Aden. The main unanswered question is whether the administration can increase the amount of attacks if it wants to against rank-and-file members of the Yemeni-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Residents around the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia have reported sounds of aircraft and explosions in a jungle nearby. Local resident Mohamed Ali said, “We heard planes flying over Kismayo and minutes later there were at least three explosions.” Another local, Abdikarim Samow, said that, “The aircraft fired heavy missiles into a jungle area where the Shabaab established training camps, but we don't know more.” Other residents also confirmed the explosions; however, it remains unclear who conducted the raid or what the intended target was. Neither al Shabaab nor TFG officials have commented on the attack.
- The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has officially joined Kenyan and British efforts to find Judith Tebbutt, a British citizen who was kidnapped by an unknown group of gunmen on the morning of September 11 at a resort on the island of Lamu just south of the Somali border in Kenya. Mohammed Ali Nur, the TFG’s ambassador to Kenya, condemned the killing of Tebbutt’s husband and said that reports that she was taken to Somalia were speculation. “We are still investigating the reports, but as of now we do not want to react to speculation.” Defense minister Hussein Arab Issa though says that she was taken to Somalia and is currently being held by al Shabaab.
- Pro-TFG forces stopped a Turkish aid convoy at a checkpoint from entering an al Shabaab area south of Mogadishu. The group included six Turkish nationals, ten Somali citizens, and a number of private security guards. The group says that it stopped the convoy for security reasons, citing the difficulty in working in the al Shabaab-controlled territory.
- Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade, a member of parliament in the TFG, said that TFG forces were ready to push al Shabaab militants out of the Bay and Bakool regions in south and central Somalia. He remarked that technical issues had caused previous delays.
- Al Shabaab militants stopped a group of refugees from entering Kenya. Kathar Osman, an al Shabaab official in charge of humanitarian aid, said that the refugees had violated rules, but did not say what the rules were that they violated. The group consisted of 23 including women, children, and the elderly.
- The TFG opened a military training site in Jazira whose specific purpose was to train soldiers for the Somali military. TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed officially opened the site, telling attendees that it was important for the government and Somali military and constituted a step forward in national security. The training is being conducted by AMISOM troops.