Ansar al Sharia

Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 16, 2014

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Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this ...
Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this improvised explosive device Nov. 7 (2005) in eastern Baghdad and disarmed it before it could be detonated in a terrorist attack. Army photo. The IED comprises 4 large artillery shells plus an anti-tank mine, all connected together via detonating cord. This would cause the 5 devices to detonate simultaneously. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yemen: Ansar al Sharia militants target al Houthis in Ibb and al Bayda; AQAP militants attack military checkpoint in Hadramawt; tribes protest al Houthi control in Ibb

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate fourth VBIED in Mogadishu in as many days; al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle and Banadir regions; unidentified assailants target Mandera governor’s convoy with IED in Kenya’s North Eastern Province

Yemen Security Brief

  • Ansar al Sharia temporarily seized control of Udain, Ibb on October 16, killing five policemen and setting fire to multiple government buildings before withdrawing from the city. The group later claimed the attack was an attempt to thwart al Houthi control over the city. Separately, al Houthi gunmen continued to clash with AQAP militants in Rada’a, al Bayda, west of Ibb, on October 16, resulting in the deaths of 12 people.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

Libya: Slow Death of Derna

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By Aya Elbrqawi, 28 February 2014

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Photo: Kate Thomas/IRIN

A rebel fighter chats with a friend in central Benghazi (file photo).

Benghazi — Derna residents live a life of fear. Al-Qaeda has transformed their eastern Libya port city into a new base for its global campaign and as the prime export centre for jihadists.

Known for its long history of fierce fighters and proud tribes, Derna has faced relentless violence. Now it will not have a say in national governance because it is too unsafe to vote.

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Counter-terrorism officials ID extremist groups in Benghazi attack

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English: Location of Benghazi within Libya.

English: Location of Benghazi within Libya. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published: Sept. 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) — Several militant groups took part in the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. counter-terrorism officials determined.

The officials identified numerous people involved – such as the extremist group Ansar al-Sharia — and have issued sealed indictments in recent months, but on the one-year anniversary there isn’t “anyone in custody who can tell us” specifics of the attack, a counter-terrorism official told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday.

“That is a huge gap,” said the official. “What we lack is a source of information that puts us where we need to be.”

The Benghazi attack — in which Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other diplomatic employees died — still is a live issue for investigators and House Republicans conducting hearings on whether the Obama administration is covering up failures that occurred before, during and after the assault.

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Yemen’s Military Shake-Up: Weakening Ousted Saleh’s Network |

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American counterterrorism strategy in Yemen relies on the local military to contain Ansar al Sharia, an insurgent wing of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[1] But Yemen is losing ground to Ansar al Sharia, which has expanded its foothold in southern Yemen. Newly-elected President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi must unify the fractured armed forces under his command; he has begun to do so by dismissing select commanders loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Hadi’s success or failure in restructuring the Yemeni military will have dangerous implications for the country’s ability to prevail against Ansar al Sharia and AQAP, thought to be al Qaeda’s most dangerous branch, and thereby America’s ability to effect its security interests in the region.

President Hadi released a list of military and political appointments on April 6, 2012 that strikes at Saleh’s patronage network. Some of the holdover military commanders had reportedly acted to handicap the fight against Ansar al Sharia and destabilize the Hadi government.[2] The decrees removed Saleh’s half-brother and nephew from command positions and rearranged leadership in the Army and Navy. But Saleh figures remain in positions of power, most notably Saleh’s son Ahmed, head of the elite Republican Guard.

Restructuring the military is a pillar of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal of November 2011, which dictates that the government must “integrate the armed forces under unified, national and professional leadership.”[3] The GCC announced its support for the appointments the day after their issue, saying that they complied with the terms of the GCC deal.[4]

The backlash from Saleh’s men has already affected the military. Mohammed Saleh al Ahmar, dismissed commander of the Air Force, threatened to shoot down planes at Sana’a airport.[5] Armed men loyal to Saleh shut down the Sana’a airport for a day. Rumors of other commanders refusing the changes have surfaced since the decrees.[6] It is unclear how the military will weather this unrest; its strength has already been sapped by a year of defections and mutiny. It is crucial to U.S. interests that Hadi bring the armed forces to bear, because without a unified Yemeni military, the fight against AQAP will fail.

Military Appointments

Click graphic to enlarge.

The April 6 decrees included the removal of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s half-brother Mohammed al Ahmar and nephew Tareq Mohammed Saleh from command of the Air Force and Presidential Guard respectively, along with several brigade commanders. But key figures, including Saleh’s son, remain in high military positions.

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