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 religious scholar calls for Muslims to attack the United States; Islah (Reform) party members clash with al Houthi rebels in northern Amran governorate; PRC commander Abdul Latif al Sayyed survives fifth assassination attempt in southern port city Aden; PRC forces arrest three suspected AQAP operatives; Yemeni embassy official meets with U.S. Middle East Affairs official; Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed meets with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein in Sana’a
Horn of Africa: 200 al Shabaab fighters lay down arms; Somali MP shot and killed in Mogadishu; the international community condemns attack on Somali MP; 10,000 people leave Kismayo; al Shabaab warns KDF; KDF kills nine civilians in Janaa Cabdalle; Hizb al Islam leaves al Shabaab; Belgian authorities arrest suspected al Shabaab militants; Human Rights Watch calls for an investigation into the slain journalists in Mogadishu; President Mohamud speaks to Somalis in Minnesota
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) religious scholar Harith bin Ghazi AKA Mohammad al Murshidi released an audio speech on September 20, declaring that peaceful protests will not make a difference and that Muslims need to fight the United States. Harith bin Ghazi added that the only “medicine” for the United States is violence.
- Islah (Reform) party members and al Houthi rebels clashed in northern Amran governorate on September 22. According to local sources, at least 16 individuals were killed in the clashes. Local sources added that RPGs and assault rifles were used in the clashes. Both sides are reportedly fighting over the appointment of Islah party members to governor positions in northern Yemen.
- Abdul Latif al Sayyed, leader of the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) in Jaar city, survived an assassination attempt in the southern port city Aden on September 22. Local sources reported that an unidentified assailant detonated an explosive device near Abdul Latif al Sayyed’s vehicle, killing himself and wounding four others. Abdul Latif al Sayyed, formerly an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative, now commands PRC forces responsible for fighting AQAP in southern Yemen. This is reportedly the fifth assassination attempt that Abdul Latif al Sayyed has survived.
- Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) forces captured four suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Jaar city in southern Abyan governorate on September 23. According to PRC forces, the three suspected AQAP operatives were arrested in connection to the attempted assassination of Abdul Latif al Sayyed on September 22.
- Adel al Sonini, a Yemeni embassy official in Washington D.C., met with U.S. Deputy Assistant of the Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs Matthew Spence on September 23. The two sides discussed increased security and military cooperation during the meeting.
- U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein met with Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed on September 22 in Sana’a. Both sides discussed the security situation following the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen on September 13. Yemeni Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Ahmed Ali al Ashwal and Advisor to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali al Qasimi also attended the meeting.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Two hundred al Shabaab militants have laid down arms and given themselves up to AMISOM forces after clashes within the terrorist group left eight dead on September 22. A fight between two rival groups within al Shabaab killed two senior leaders in the organization and prompted over two hundred militants to surrender to AMISOM forces in Garsale, near Jowhar, and around 80km away from Mogadishu. AMISOM deputy commander, Michael Ondonga, said this defection shows al Shabaab is divided and defeated.
- Somali MP Mustaf Mohamed Mo’allin was shot and killed following evening prayers outside his home in the Waaberi district in Mogadishu on September 22. Mohamed, who was elected to the newly formed parliament in August, was targeted by al Shabaab who claimed responsibility for the attacks. Al Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab, said the terrorist group would target anyone part of “the infidel government,” and that it “will kill all Somali MPs and officials one by one.”
- The international community along with Somali leaders condemned the attack on Somali MP Mustaf Mohamed Mo’allin. AMISOM representative Boubacar Diarra, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Augustine P, Mahiga and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have all spoken out against the attack on the Somali legislator. President Mohamud has also vowed to step up security in the capital city.
- The UN refugee agency announced on September 21 that since the beginning of the month nearly 10,000 civilians have fled the city of Kismayo. Around 7,500 of those 10,000 have fled in the past four days as the threat of battle looms closer. Many people fear being used as human shields and others fear what might happen to them after the chaos of battle.
- Al Shabaab warned the KDF on September 21, that its advance on Kismayo would result in the loss of hundreds of KDF soldiers. In a different press release al Shabaab told the civilians in Kismayo to continue to support al Shabaab troops. Finally the terrorist group said that it held a parade for the new batch of recruits that arrived in Kismayo last week.
- Kenyan Defense forces shot and killed six or more innocent civilians in Janaa Cabdalle on September 23. Somali and AMISOM forces took over the city of Janaa Cabdalle, which is located 50 km northwest of Kismayo, from al Shabaab on September 18. Nine farmers were shot dead while trying to buy sugar in the town, and talks between the military and local elders are taking place in order to try and help patch relations and bring justice to the killers.
- Hizb al Islam announced on September 24 that it is leaving Somali terror group al Shabaab. The two groups joined forces in December 2010, and the loss of its two year ally is a blow to al Shabaab.
- Belgian authorities have arrested four militants suspected of recruiting men to join the Somali terrorist network al Shabaab. Four men were arrested in Brussels on September 22, and another three are being extradited from France. Four additional militants eluded capture in 2011 and are suspected of fighting for al Shabaab in Somalia. The men in custody are scheduled to be brought to court on September 24.
- Human Rights Watch has asked Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to conduct an investigation into the deaths of four journalists in Mogadishu last week. Thirteen journalists in total have been killed this year in Somalia. Human Rights Watch believes this can be stopped if serious investigations root out and find those responsible.
- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud spoke over the phone to hundreds of Somalis in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 23. President Mohamud has said Somalia is moving forward and attempting to erase its bad reputation in the world. He urged Somali Diasporas around the world to support the new Somali government going forward. This phone call came several days after a Minnesota man was reported to have left the United States to join al Shabaab in Somalia.