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: Yemeni forces drive al Qaeda militants from Hawta; al Qaeda fighters attack bus in Sana’a; security checkpoints established in Bani Hushaish; in Mayfaa in Abyan governorate, al Qaeda militants turned themselves in; explosive vehicle connected to al Qaeda found in Hawta; Friends of Yemen call for increased coordination of foreign aid to Yemen; U.S. government hopes to throw out lawsuit on behalf of Anwar al Awlaki; President Saleh reaffirms commitment to the war on terror; security forces captured eight militants planning attacks on Aden
Horn of Africa: Obama administration announces plans to strengthen ties with Puntland and Somaliland; an unknown helicopter fired on the town of Marka; al Shabaab launched mortar attack on parliament building on Monday; Kenya says aid should be spent on strengthening the TFG, not anti-piracy campaigns; ASWJ withdraws from TFG; ASWJ claims al Shabaab is active within the TFG; delegates in Madrid discuss increasing AMISOM forces in Somalia; Greek-operated cargo ship escapes pirate attack; well-known cleric is captured in El Irfid village; two civilians die in clash between TFG and al Shabaab in Beer-leex village; Somali President Sharif wants to appoint close associate as interim PM; Mogadishu businessmen call for an end to the shelling in Bakara market
Yemen Security Review
- After five days of fighting, a senior security official reports that Yemeni forces drove out al Qaeda militants from the town of Hawta in Shabwah governorate. Brig. Gen. Ahmed al Maqdashi, head of Shabwah security, said the fighting ended after the militants fled to the mountains on Friday. Local tribal chiefs claim that they negotiated a peaceful end to the siege with the militants.
- Two al Qaeda militants attacked a bus carrying security personnel in Shamlan district in Sana’a on Saturday, injuring 10 people and killing one. The incident occurred after the Sana’a chief of police received a tip on Friday that al Qaeda was plotting an attack on security bases in the capital.
- Security checkpoints have been established throughout Bani Hushaish district in Sana'a governorate, and residents have been prohibited from entering or exiting the district after news was received that subversive forces had taken refuge in the district. Locals have been openly discontented with the restrictions.
- A group of al Qaeda militants voluntarily turned themselves over to the authorities in Mayfaa district of Abyan governorate, according to general director of Mayfaa local council district Abdulla Atif Ba Auda. Ba Auda reported that, “we cannot say for sure that they are al-Qaeda members; only five or six of them are suspects and they are still under investigation.”
- Security officials found an explosive-rigged vehicle in Hawta in Shabwah governorate on Sunday, according to the Interior Ministry. The security source, which claimed that the car was intended for an al Qaeda suicide attack, said, “the security authorities found explosive dynamites, detonators, rocket-propelled grenades, as well as documents of the ownership of the vehicle of a person from the province of Hadramout.”
- The Friends of Yemen group, which met in New York on Friday at the UN General Assembly, called for improved coordination of foreign aid within the country, particularly through the implementation of a recently adopted International Monetary Fund program designed to restructure Yemen’s economy. William J. Burns, Undersecretary for Political Affairs at the U.S. State Department, recognized “a real sense of urgency in providing assistance, both in the sense of meeting security needs but also in terms of long-term development needs.”
- The Obama administration invoked the state secrets privilege in the hopes of throwing out a lawsuit on behalf of Anwar al Awlaki, who is currently targeted for death or capture under a U.S. government program. The lawsuit seeks to have the court decide that both the U.S. Constitution and International Law prohibit the use of targeted killings. Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “it strains credulity to argue that our laws require the government to disclose to an active, operational terrorist any information about how, when and where we fight terrorism.”
- Sunday marked the anniversary of the September 26, 1962 revolution in which the imamate was replaced by the Yemeni republic. In a speech marking the occasion, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said, “We are committed to the war on terror… which has harmed our economy, the reputation of our religion and country.”
- Yemeni security forces captured eight militants allegedly planning attacks on tourism facilities in Aden. A provincial security official said, “documents displaying their plans to attack the tourism facilities in Aden were found when security forces raided the group’s hideout in al-Buraiqa town of Aden.”
Horn of Africa Security Review
- The Obama administration announced plans Friday to strengthen ties with the two northern breakaway republics in Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland,, and continue supporting the TFG. Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said the U.S. will also increase its support for areas in south-central Somalia controlled by clans not allied with al Shabaab or the government. While the U.S. has had limited interaction with these regions in the past, Carson believes that “both of these parts of Somalia have been zones of relative political and civil stability and we think they will, in fact, be a bulwark against extremism and radicalism that might emerge from the south.”
- A helicopter fired on the Somali coastal town of Marka on Sunday, narrowly missing a meeting of al Shabaab leaders. U.S. military officials denied involvement in the incident. It has yet to be determined to whom the helicopter belongs.
- Witnesses report that al Shabaab launched a mortar attack against the Somali parliament building on Monday morning while parliament was in session. No casualties have been reported.
- Kenya’s foreign minister, Moses Wetangula, said Saturday that the millions of dollars in aid used to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia should instead be used to help Somalia rebuild a functioning government. Wetangula stated that “piracy is not born at sea. It is born on land. And if you are able to patrol and protect your coastline, it’s unlikely that pirates will find a way to the high seas to cause a menace.”
- Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a (ASWJ), a moderate Islamist group, withdrew from a power sharing deal with the TFG on Saturday because of the government’s failure to meet certain aspects of the deal. Spokesman Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf said that although the ASWJ is not part of the government, “we shall continue fighting against al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam to keep our controlled areas peaceful.”
- One day after severing political ties with the TFG, Sheikh Omar Sheikh Abdul-Karidir of the ASWJ’s Shura council told local radio stations that he had secret documents proving that al Shabaab is active within the TFG.
- Delegates from 45 countries are meeting in Madrid to consider plans to increase the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed warned that his country is a “weak link” in the fight against international terrorism and asked for continued training and support for government troops.
- A Greek-operated cargo ship attacked by Somali pirates was released when the Ukranian crew prevented the pirates from taking control of the vessel. The foreign ministry in Kiev said, “in line with the prepared plan, the crew shut themselves in the engine room with sufficient food and water. Keeping command of the controls, they did not allow the pirates to change course for the Somali coast.”
- Sheikh Jurre Sheikh Abudulle, a well known cleric in El Irfid village in northern Mogadishu, was captured by al Shabaab fighters on Sunday and is being held in a local jail. Sheikh Abdulasis Sheikh Abdulkadir, a close friend of the captured cleric, has requested that Sheikh Abudulle be released since he is not a member of either warring side in the country.
- A short confrontation between TFG and al Shabaab soldiers in Beer-leex village in Hiraan region on Friday left two civilians dead and two injured. Military casualties on both sides are unknown.
- Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed wants to appoint his close associate Mr. Abdikarim Jama as interim Prime Minister. The two men grew up together in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region, north of Mogadishu.
- Mogadishu businessmen called on TFG and AMISOM forces to stop shelling Bakara, the largest market in Mogadishu. Ali Mohammed Siad, chairman of Bakara market businessmen, claims that AMISOM’s shelling is killing many innocent people. Nathan Mugishu, land force commander of AMISOM, has denied accusations of indiscriminate shelling, saying, “it is known those [who] pound mortars on the civilian people.”