By William Tucker
Two events today provide the opportunity to discuss al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the symbiotic relationship between the two terror groups. Coming first out of Yemen was news that a suicide bomber attempted to strike the British ambassador’s vehicle while he was driving to work. According to reports the Ambassador took great lengths to vary the route he took to work, but because of traffic congestion the bomber was able to get close enough to detonate near the Ambassador’s vehicle. Yemeni officials have said that the bomber was the only casualty in the attack.
Later in the morning the Associated Press reported that al-Shabaab in Somalia was intent on attacking the pirate stronghold of Harardhere, a port often used by the pirates for holding ransomed ships and crew. As of this evening reports are emerging suggesting that the pirates in the city have evacuated north to the port city of Hobyo leaving Harardhere to al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has clashed with Somali pirates before; however the current hostilities reach a new level. The reasoning behind the al-Shabaab assault is unknown at this time as the city of Harardhere is outside of the area controlled by the terror group. One rumor claims that the pirates hijacked a shipment of arms meant for al-Shabaab. It is also possible that al-Shabaab is looking for increased tax revenue as some of its sponsors, such as Eritrea, has come under scrutiny for supporting the group.
Although both groups have come under increased pressure as of late they continue to demonstrate that they both retain the capability to carry out attacks and cooperate in areas such as intelligence and training. This primarily occurs among the large Somali refugee camps south of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. These refugee camps allow the terror groups to move money, people and arms between the two countries. The U.S. and the UK have dedicated money and training to Yemeni forces to help combat al-Qaeda; however these measures need to address both nations straddling the Gulf of Aden if any successful resolution is to come about.
Map credit: National Geographic