Weekly Intelligence Report 31st January – 7th February

Indian Ocean HRA

  • No incidents reported in the High Risk Area during the reporting period.

The threat of piracy still exists in the waters off the Southern Red Sea/ Bab el Mandeb, Gulf of Aden including Yemen and the northern Somali coast, Arabian Sea/ of Oman, Gulf of Oman and off the eastern and southern Somali coastline. Although the opportunity for attacks has reduced, Somali pirates continue to possess the motivation and capability to carry out attacks.

Increasingly, vessels in the HRA are subjected to incidents that appear to be coordinated small boat piracy approaches however they choose not to ultimately attack. These incidents are then difficult to classify as attempted piracy or simply as regional patterns of life in the area. The current assessment is that piracy attacks will remain sporadic, though any vessel transiting the HRA without the presence of armed security remain a significant risk.


This week:

New UN monitoring team leader joins offshore talks:
New UN Monitoring Team Leader Michael Lollesgaard, who replaces Patrick Cammaert, joined talks between representatives from the al Houthi movement and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government aboard a UN ship off the coast of western Yemen on February 6. The talks on the ship began on February 3 and seek to reach an agreement on how to implement the al Hudaydah Agreement.

Islamic State in Yemen and AQAP claim attacks targeting each other:
The Islamic State in Yemen claimed to have foiled an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attack in Z’aj area in northwestern al Bayda governorate in central Yemen. AQAP claimed to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an Islamic State vehicle in the upper Qayfa area in northwestern al Bayda governorate on February 6.

Ongoing threat:

It is highly unlikely that international shipping is being directly targeted by combatants in the Yemen conflict, but there remains a risk of misidentification and miscalculation. The situation is fluid and the threats to shipping can change rapidly. Ship operators should carry out detailed risk assessments for each voyage into the area using the latest threat information.


4 Feb. Mogadishu, Somalia – Car bomb explodes at a crowded shopping mall:

Al –Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the attack. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group was also responsible for three car bombings last November that killed at least 52 people with about 100 more injured. The bombs were detonated near a hotel popular with visitors to Somalia and international journalists.

Al-Shabaab killing of Maltese man could be motivated by economics, not politics:

The Al Shabaab killing of a Maltese port manager in Somalia was not typical of the terrorist group and pointed to economic, rather than political, motives, regional experts told the Times of Malta. Paul Anthony Formosa, 52, from Marsascala, was killed by gunmen on the 4th February, at the port of Bosaso, in the semi-autonomous Puntland state, in an attack which Al Shabaab said was “part of broader operations targeting the mercenary companies that loot the Somali resources”.

Mr Formosa worked at P&O ports, a subsidiary of the Dubai-based global operator DP World, which was granted a controversial concession in April 2017 to develop and operate the port. Rather than the spectacular attacks Al-Shabaab have traditionally carried out, this was a mafia style execution according to the director of the Institute of Global Studies. he Puntland region had for years been one of the most secure and stable in Somalia, with the semi-autonomous authorities governing without much of the chaos that plagued the rest of the country.

The last few years, however, experienced a deterioration in security, prompted in part by a clash of economic interests between China and the United Arab Emirates, as Dubai set about acquiring and developing several ports, as in Bosaso, dealing with local authorities and bypassing the central Somali government.

The attack marks the second major terror attack carried out by Al-Shabaab in 2019 following last month’s siege in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. At least 21 people were killed when militants from the terror group laid siege at the DusitD2 compound, an upmarket cluster of shops and hotel facilities in Nairobi.

Piracy activity:

There is no piracy activity to report in this area from this reporting period.

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