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: AQAP eulogizes senior leader Abu Yahya al Libi; Saudi interior minister reports that Shihri’s death not yet confirmed; commander in Central Security Force survives an assassination attempt in al Mukalla city in Hadramawt governorate; AQAP releases statement calling for additional attacks on western diplomats; Yemeni parliament rejects presence of U.S. Marines in Yemen; al Houthi demonstration fails to draw a crowd in Sana’a; unidentified gunmen raise AQAP-affiliated Ansar al Sharia banners in Radaa city of al Bayda governorate; unidentified security sources report that AQAP is preparing suicide operations in Sana’a and Aden; armed tribesmen seize government infrastructure in northern Hajjah governorate; al Houthi rebels boycott Yemeni national dialogue
Horn of Africa: Somali and Kenya troops capture Bibi town in Lower Jubba region; Somali and Kenyan forces claim victory in the Qalawile area outside Kismayo; some al Shabaab militants leave Kismayo; explosion in Mandera, Kenya injures two people; Kenyan police increase security along northeast border with Somalia; attacks kill two people in Mogadishu; anti-American protests seen in Somalia; new Somali president inaugurated; Djibouti President promises support to Somalia; cabinet of ministers reshuffled in Puntland
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) eulogized senior leader Abu Yahya al Libi on September 14, stating that his death encouraged protestors to attack the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Abu Yahya al Libi was killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on September 10.
- Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz al Saud reported on September 16 that Saudi Arabia has not yet confirmed the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) deputy leader Said al Shihri. Saudi national and former Guantanamo Bay detainee Said al Shihri was reported killed by an airstrike in eastern Hadramawt governorate in Yemen on September 10.
- A commander in Yemen’s Central Security Force, Colonel Abdul Wahab al Wali, survived an assassination attempt in the eastern port city of al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate on September 16. Colonel Abdul Wahab al Wali was traveling in the Rawkab area of al Mukalla when his convoy hit two IEDs, killing at least three bodyguards and wounding five more. The Yemeni government has not commented on Colonel Abdul Wahab al Wali’s current condition.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement on September 15 calling for Muslims to attack American diplomats in the Middle East. AQAP also called on Muslims living in the West to carry out attacks, stating “they are more capable of doing harm and reaching the enemy is easier for them.”
- The Yemeni parliament rejected the presence of U.S. Marines in Yemen on September 15. A small U.S. Marines platoon was deployed to Yemen in order to protect the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a. The Yemeni parliament concluded that protecting foreign diplomats and property is the sole responsibility of the Yemeni government. Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa’s media adviser, Rahe Bady, reported that the deployment of about 50 Marines was permitted to enter Yemen for the protection of the American embassy “because of the split in the army and the security forces.”
- An al Houthi-planned demonstration in Sana’a on September 16 was cancelled after failing to draw a significant crowd. The demonstration, reportedly against the presence of U.S. Marines in Yemen, was to take place in front of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s residence.
- Unidentified gunmen assaulted local stores and displayed banners of AQAP-affiliated Ansar al Sharia in Radaa city of al Bayda governorate on September 16. Local citizens urged the Yemeni government to deploy additional forces to the region to restore security conditions.
- Unidentified security sources reported to Aden Life news agency on September 16 that AQAP is preparing to carry out multiple suicide operations in the capital city of Sana’a and southern port city Aden. According to the security sources, the pending attacks will target diplomatic and military locations.
- Armed tribesmen loyal to General People’s Congress (GPC) Branch Chief Fahad Dahshoush seized government infrastructure in northern Hajjah governorate on September 15. The armed tribesmen also forcibly removed University of Hajjah instructors from their homes, blocked Hajjah Governor Ali al Qaisi from his government headquarters, and barred students from attending classes.
- Al Houthi rebels boycotted a national dialogue session in Sana’a on September 17 because U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein was in attendance. Al Houthi rebels were quoted as saying, “the United States is pursuing a policy to undermine stability in Yemen and create conflict between Muslims at the local and regional levels.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Kenyan troops, operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and Somali government forces captured the Somali town of Bibi in Afmadow district in Lower Jubba region on September 14 from al Shabaab. The al Shabaab contingent in the town was not large and the Somali and Kenyan troops faced little resistance. Three al Shabaab militants were killed in the attack and three Somali soldiers were injured. A cache of munitions was recovered during the operation. Bibi is an important town in the ongoing attempt to capture the port town of Kismayo since Bibi is located at a road junction connecting Beles Qoqani and Aglibah.
- Somali government forces and Kenyan Defense Forces claim victory after two days of fighting in the Qalawile area west of Kismayo on September 16 and 17. Casualty numbers are not known; however, it is believed that at least 30 soldiers from both sides were killed. Al Shabaab wrote on its Twitter feed that it took down a Kenyan helicopter, but that has yet to be verified.
- Al Shabaab militants appear to be evacuating Kismayo ahead of the Somali and AMISOM troops’ advance. Residents in the city claim al Shabaab is removing its soldiers from the city and that it has also freed all of the prisoners within Kismayo. This report comes three days after al Shabaab leader Abdirahman Abu Hudeyfa claimed the terrorist groups would not leave the port city.
- An explosion in the Kenyan town of Mandera near the Somali border on September 15 injured two Kenyan police officers. The two policemen heard a separate explosion and were rushing to investigate when their SUV went over a roadside bomb. Mandera is in the northeastern most corner of Kenya on the border of Ethiopia and Somalia, and al Shabaab-linked attacks have occurred throughout that region of Kenya since Kenyan Defense forces first entered Somalia in October 2011. As of now, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Following the attack on two Kenyan police officers in Mandera on September 15, the Kenyan police forces have increased security along the Somali border. Mandera, which borders Somalia’s Gedo region, is vulnerable to Somali terrorist attacks. Kenyan police officer Philip Tuimur said that Kenyan police would step up security on the border to make sure the Somali terrorist network al Shabaab would not be able to enter Kenya.
- Mogadishu saw a renewed outburst of violence on September 16 when unknown attackers shot and bombed several locations in the capital city. The son of prominent cleric Sheikh Noor Barud was shot in the Bula-Hubey neighborhood. One other was injured in the shooting. Another attack saw the death of a man shot dead in the Mana-Boliya neighborhood. There was one more incident in which a grenade was thrown into a restaurant in the Towfiq neighborhood, injuring three. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
- Anti-American protests took place in Somalia on September 14, in response to the anti-Muslim movie made in the United States. Unlike other protests, Somalia’s protests were peaceful. Thousands of woman and young people gathered in Bulo-Burde in Hiraan region to chant anti-American phrases and burn an American flag. Al Shabaab militants were said to have shown up armed and participated peacefully in the protest. A similar demonstration occurred in the capital of Mogadishu.
- Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was inaugurated on September 16 after being elected by the Somali parliament one week earlier. Several heads of state were in attendance including Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Djibouti President Omar Gelle, and deputy prime minister of Turkey, Baker Bozdag. Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, the Special Representative of the United Nations for Somalia was also in attendance. Security was tight after a failed assassination attempt of the Somali President occurred only four days prior to the inauguration. President Mohamud spoke of his plans for Somalia highlighting security and justice as his first and second priority, economic stabilization as his third and reconciliation as his fourth.
- At the presidential inauguration on September 16, Djibouti President Omar Gelle congratulated President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia and pledged the support of his people to the new President. Djibouti has already sent troops to help fight the Somali terrorist network al Shabaab and President Gelle promised continued help to the Somali government.
- The President in Puntland, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, reshuffled his cabinet of ministers on September 15. The decree issued by the President reshuffled existing ministers, got rid of some ministers and welcomed new ones into the cabinet. The announcement of the reshuffle came at the same time the President announced Puntland would hold elections in all its districts.