Al Qaeda weapons ship docks in AdenApril 15, 2014 in Yemen
11 April- A ship manned by al Qaeda militants and loaded with weapons arrived at Yemen’s port in Aden. As the militants began to unload the weapons, they clashed with from Yemen’s anti –smuggling unit, and re-boarded the ship. As the militants sailed away from the dock, they were followed by Yemeni coast guard and navy, however security forces lost the trail of the ship. It is reported that two militants were killed by security forces; however it is unclear whether they were killed in clashes at the port or on sea.The Yemeni Interior minister had issued a warning on 9 April that an al Qaeda ship had departed from Djbouti, and was thought to be loaded with weapons and heading to Aden, approximately 154 nautical miles away. The ship was thought to be manned by militants from Yemen’s eastern Hadramout province. During the 2011 Arab Spring, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) used the chaos to their advantage and seized control of vast areas in Yemen’s south, including Hadramout. Yemeni military and counter-terrorism efforts have allowed the nation to successfully recapture the land; however the region remains a stronghold for AQAP militants.
Yemen has experienced a large amount of weapons smuggling in recent years. Last year, a senior Yemeni official confirmed that weapons smugglers are taking advantage of the many small, unpopulated islands in the Red Sea to engage in criminal activities. The anonymous official said, “It is easy for large ships to unload their cargo there, with this later being smuggled into Yemen on smaller fishing boats.”
Arms are smuggled into Yemen for two main reasons: first, they are used in terror tactics and political by militants, and second, they are for financial profit, often being sold into nearby countries.
Yemen has a long coastline, approximately 2,200 km (1,367 miles), however Yemen does not have strong maritime security. The nation’s naval force consists of (as of 2011) only 1700 troop and 20 patrol ships. They lack sufficient personnel and equipment to effectively monitor their maritime coast. Officials have complained that large arms shipments are entering through the port, not only for use by AQAP, but also by Yemen’s Houthi (“Youth”) movement, an insurgent group that has been present in Yemen since 2004.