Yemen: Security official gunned down by suspected al Qaeda-linked militants in Lahij; thousands of Yemenis gather in Sana’a in support of the upcoming election; separatists storm an electoral office in Lahij governorate; Sunni tribes and the al Houthis agree on a ceasefire; Yemeni jihadist releases a message urging others to help Ansar al Sharia form an Islamic state in Yemen
Horn of Africa: Ayman al Zawahiri announces that al Shabaab has joined al Qaeda; pro-government militia captures two villages from al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- Suspected al Qaeda-linked militants shot and killed a security official in the outskirts of the city of Lahij on the evening of February 9. Head of the Criminal Investigations Department in Hawta Major al Qadr al Humaidi was gunned down while returning home from work. The militants were reportedly on motorcycles.
- Thousands of Yemenis gathered in Sana’a’s Tagheer (Change) Square in support of the upcoming election on February 21. The protesters shouted slogans like, “February 21 is the day on which Yemen will be reborn,” and “Hadi, take the key, the slaughterer’s rule has ended,” referring to the sole candidate running and current Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi.
- Local sources reported that tens of separatists stormed the Supreme Committee for Elections’ office in Masameer district in Lahij governorate. Factions of the separatists voiced their strong opposition to the upcoming election and called for boycotts.
- A truce calling for a ceasefire between the al Houthis and Sunni tribesmen in Kashar district in Hajjah governorate has been reached on February 9. Local residents, however, reported that gunfire could still be heard. Spokesman for the Hujoor tribe Zaid ‘Arjaash stated that the truce serves to end clashes, remove armed elements from their bases, and exchange their dead.
- A Yemeni jihadist released a message on jihadist forums on February 6 seeking the establishment of an Islamic state in Yemen. He called on other forum members to unite and form a party in order to help Ansar al Sharia fight its opposition, which includes Iran, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the secessionists.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, announced that al Shabaab has formally joined his terrorist organization. Zawahiri said in a video released on February 9, “Today, I have glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah that will please the believers and disturb the disbelievers, which is the joining of the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia to Qaedat al-Jihad, to support the jihadi unity against the Zio-Crusader campaign and their assistants amongst the treacherous agent rulers.” The leader of al Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, pledged allegiance to Zawahiri in the video. Al Shabaab previously pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2009.
- On February 9, a pro-government militia captured two villages near Beledweyne, in Somalia’s Hiraan region, from al Shabaab. Its commander, Col. Issack Ali Abdulle, claimed that the group is now in control of Afar Irdod and Dirimadle.
 “Security Official Killed in Yemen,” Xinhua, February 10, 2012. Available: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2012-02/10/content_14577466.htm “Thousands Gather in Yemen to Back Upcoming Vote,” AFP, February 10, 2012. Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h7QQca9F5l7jW7rTSXf1uc-TCHgA?docId=CNG.3beccc0278e2946a62f96f80f24b3b55.f1 “Supports of the Southern Movement Storm the Election Committee Office in Lahij,” Al Masdar Online, February 10, 2012. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/index.php?page=news&article-section=1&news_id=28614 “Truce between Tribes and the Al Houthis in Hajjah, and Gunfire Continues,” Al Masdar Online, February 9, 2012. Available: http://almasdaronline.com/index.php?page=news&article-section=1&news_id=28608 “Yemeni Jihadist Urges Contributions to Islamic State Project in Yemen,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 9, 2012. Available at SITE.“Zawahiri Announces Joining of Shabaab to al-Qaeda,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 9, 2012. Available at SITE.“Somalia’s Militants Group al-Shabab joins al-Qaeda, Qaida Leader Says in Video,” AP, February 9, 2012. Available: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/somalias-militants-group-al-shabab-joins-al-qaida-qaida-leader-says-in-video/2012/02/09/gIQAEvGV1Q_story.html