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: Most violent protests in months erupt across Yemen; two top al Qaeda leaders reportedly killed in Yemen; Yemeni official reports Somali fighters fighting alongside al Qaeda in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases new education curricula; Somali soldiers kill two civilians in Mogadishu; Kenya deploys additional forces to border with Somalia; Ahlu Sunna announces plans to attack al Shabaab; IED hits AMISOM convoy; al Shabaab recruits from Yemen, trains in Kenya; al Shabaab declares new war against the TFG; TFG bans foreign aid workers from operating in al Shabaab-controlled territory; abducted Brit in Harardhere; TFG accuses al Shabaab of selling food aid; fighting in Mogadishu kills three; al Shabaab retreats from Bohol Bashir; French citizens to be tried by al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Protests and subsequent clashes between Yemeni security forces and opposition protesters in Sana’a, Yemen resulted in nearly 50 deaths on September 18 and 19. On September 18, eyewitnesses reported that pro-regime snipers positioned on rooftops killed at least 26 out of the 29 killed by security forces that day. The fighting also left hundreds severely wounded as security forces fired on protesters with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and tear gas canisters. The AP reports that more than 100,000 protesters demonstrated in Sana’a, surrounding and setting fire to government buildings including the state radio building. Loyalist security forces escalated the use of force as protestors marched toward the presidential palace and from Tagheer (Change) Square to Sana’a University. Protests also erupted in other parts of Yemen including Taiz, where two people were killed and ten were wounded in fierce clashes between tribesmen loyal to the opposition and government security forces. In Aden, three protesters were reportedly wounded in clashes. The cities of Sa’ada, Ibb, and Dhamar also witnessed protests and violent in clashes there as well. On September 19, at least 23 people were killed, including one child and three defected soldiers and hundreds more have been wounded. While protesters and witnesses report that the marches were peaceful, the state-run news agency claimed that protesters were throwing Molotov cocktails at a power station causing it to set fire and shut down generators. State officials called the protests “unauthorized” and noted those responsible as being militias of the Islah opposition party and the First Armored Division. These protests come as officials from the United Nations (UN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met in Sana’a to discuss the GCC power transition deal.
- Naji Abdul Aziz al Zaidi, governor of Ma’rib governorate, told the Saudi Gazette that two top al Qaeda leaders of Saudi descent were killed during recent battles between security forces and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. He also noted that the two Saudi men were among the top thirty commanders of al Qaeda and were financiers of the terrorist organization.
- Mohamed al Somali, a Yemeni military officer, reported that Somali fighters were fighting alongside al Qaeda militants in recent battles in Abyan governorate. In the past, a security officer confirmed al Somali’s report and further added that Somali fighters helped al Qaeda fighters seize control of the coastal town of Shaqra in order to facilitate the arrival of more al Shabaab fighters. From there, al Shabaab fighters were transferred to Abyan and Shabwah governorates in order to be trained by al Qaeda experts. A local source reported that over 500 Somali fighters arrived in Shaqra, one day following its capture.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab has released a new education curriculum for schools in regions under its control to counter “infidel ideas and practices.” After an investigation, the group’s education office determined that there needed to be an Arabic language course to include reading, writing, and speaking, and Islamic studies courses focusing on monotheism, Hadith, and recitation of the Quran.
- A soldier at a checkpoint on a road leading out of Mogadishu fired at a bus moving at high speed through the checkpoint. The shooting resulted in two injuries and two deaths of civilians on the bus. Officials say that the soldier responsible has been taken into custody.
- Kenya has deployed additional police and troops to its border with Somalia. The additional forces are equipped with heavy weapons and armored vehicles.
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a executive council chairman Sheikh Mohamed Yusuf Hefow announced that the group will launch a “decisive offensive” against al Shabaab in central Somalia. He stated that the group was well-equipped and ready to do so. Previously, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) parliament member Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade said TFG forces were ready to push al Shabaab out of central and southern Somalia.
- An AMISOM convoy struck a roadside bomb as it moved towards a military base in the Hoosh neighborhood in Mogadishu. No casualty figures were given and AMISOM has not released a statement concerning the attack.
- Yemeni citizen Ally Abdulrasoul was recently arrested on terrorism charges at a roadblock heading near the Somalia-Kenya border. He told authorities that Sheikh al Bashir recruits Yemenis from Hadramawt governorate and then sends them across the Gulf of Aden by boat to train in Kenya to use “guns, grenades, and first aid”. From there, they enter Somalia to fight with al Shabaab.
- The chairman of al Shabaab in the Banadir region, Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdurrahman, declared a new war against the TFG and vowed to continue fighting in Mogadishu. He said that the group had new tactics developed from experience gained from fighting the TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. He also presented three soldiers that had defected with a number of weapons and a luxury car.
- The TFG banned all foreign aid groups from operating in al Shabaab-controlled territory citing security concerns. Mogadishu governor Mohamud Ahmed Nur suggested instead that the groups turn over their aid to local NGOs who can then enter those areas and distribute aid. This announcement follows the brief detention of two Turkish aid workers after they delivered food aid to a refugee camp under al Shabaab control.
- Locals report that Judith Tebbutt, a British citizen abducted from a resort on Lamu Island last week, is in the hands of Somali pirates and being kept in an area outside of Harardhere.
- Mohamud Ahmed Nur, governor of Banadir and mayor of Mogadishu, said that al Shabaab fed its fighters with some of the food aid and sold other portions of it to purchase weapons.
- Overnight fighting between TFG forces and al Shabaab militants in the Dharkenlay neighborhood in Mogadishu killed three people and wounded five others.
- Al Shabaab militants pulled out of the village of Bohol Bashir in the Bay region following reports that government forces were moving into the area. The militants reportedly set up new positions only three kilometers away.
- Two French security advisors, sent on an official mission to train Somali forces, were captured by militants in a Mogadishu hotel on September 13. A spokesman for al Shabaab said that the two will be tried under shari'a law, but that a trial date has not been set.