Cablegate: Royg Unveils Intel-Sharing Center to Better


DE RUEHYN #0271/01 0411047
R 101047Z FEB 10

S E C R E T SANAA 000271
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2020
REF: 09 SANAA 2230
Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. The Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU)
unveiled a joint information-sharing center aimed at
coordinating information related to CT operations from all
ROYG intelligence bodies in a February 3 ceremony at the CTU
headquarters in Sana’a. The need for enhanced cooperation in
intelligence-sharing has been highlighted by recent failures
to communicate critical information to CT forces in advance
of operations against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula
(AQAP). The center, which has been on the CTU leadership’s
agenda for the past six months, will include representatives
from both the UK and the U.S. While the center is certainly
a step forward in improving intelligence-sharing between ROYG
entities, the Yemen Special Operations Forces (YSOF) was
excluded, suggesting that full cooperation between Yemen’s
two premier CT forces requires more time and effort by ROYG
and USG military leadership. END SUMMARY.
2. (S/NF) ROYG military and intelligence leaders hosted the
opening ceremony of the Office of Special Security
Information (OSSI), an intelligence sharing and operations
planning center housed within the Counter Terrorism Unit
(CTU) Headquarters in Sana’a, which PolOff and EmbOffs
attended on February 3. The OSSI will include
representatives from a range of Ministry of Interior (MOI)
intelligence-gathering bodies, including: the Political
Security Organization (PSO), the National Security Bureau
(NSB), the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), and
the CTU’s parent body, the Central Security Forces (CSF). In
addition, the OSSI will include U.S. and U.K. military and
intelligence representatives to work within its offices in
order to promote greater intelligence sharing and improve the
effectiveness of joint operations planning.
3. (S/NF) Mistakes, delayed information, and stove-piping
between ROYG military and security bodies has hurt and at
times jeopardized the effectiveness of recent CT operations.
For instance, recent ROYG operations have been impeded by a
lack of clear commands, miscommunication between CT elements
regarding roles, information that was not shared until after
the operation, and a reliance on sporadic cell phone calls
between various units in the field during the course of the
operation. U.S. training teams noted that ROYG CT elements
should have held a pre-operation planning session in which
all players shared relevant information, developed a cohesive
strategy, and used secure, interoperable communications
equipment. CTU Commander Kamal al-Sayani told PolOff that
intelligence-sharing was the "number one challenge" for his
forces in conducting and planning CT missions. He said that
"almost 80 percent of relevant information never makes it to
the tactical CTU leaders in the field." The new center is
the first step towards rectifying that lack of coordination
and a positive gesture of inclusion to its constituent
members, including the U.S. and the U.K.
4. (S/NF) Attendees included high-level representatives from
all future members of the OSSI, Presidential Guard Commander
Tarik Saleh, Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security
Rashad al-Alimi, CSF Chief of Staff and "godfather of the
CTU" Yahya Saleh, Minister of Interior Mutahar Rashad
al-Masri, and British Minister of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs Ivan Lewis. In his presentation on the
structure and future of the new intelligence center, Sayani
said that one of the stated goals of the OSSI is "to build
mutual trust between all information gathering bodies" in
order to more effectively target al-Qa’ida in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP).
5. (S/NF) The OSSI represents a significant expansion and
improvement upon the technology housed in the skeletal office
that Sayani showed PolOff in October as he discussed his
concept of hosting a joint intelligence center within the
CTU. The old office was small and low-tech, housing only
three old computers, and lacked any sort of electronic
display board or planning apparatus. All mapping was limited
to hard copy maps filed in a series of cabinets, as opposed
to their current "geographical support" element which has
updated to electronic mapping and printing of customized maps
on demand. Most notably, the previous office did not have
the participation or buy-in of the other ROYG CT or
intelligence gathering bodies. Now, however, the OSSI plans
to establish a rotational schedule with a representative
officer from each of the intelligence bodies present at all
times in the OSSI collaborating with other officers on
products and targeting. The OSSI came to fruition with the
support of British counterparts and today includes at least
15 new computers, a large plotter for producing maps, and a
briefing room.
6. (S/NF) Yemen Special Operations Forces (YSOF), which
currently has plans to reinvigorate its CT element and build
an operations center of its own, may still be jockeying for
the position of Yemen’s premier CT force. YSOF and CTU are
both seeking to procure communications systems that are
interoperable with the Presidential Guard, thus allowing them
to become more closely aligned with that well-resourced unit,
according to DAO reporting. (COMMENT: The Presidential
Guard has the mandate of protecting the President,
ministerial level ROYG officials, and visiting foreign
dignitaries. It is one of the only security or military
units that currently possesses a dedicated, nationwide
communications network. END COMMENT.)
7. (S/NF) Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Saleh, presidential
son and Commander of the YSOF, was conspicuous by his absence
at the unveiling. The current organizational chart of the
OSSI does not include the YSOF, despite the fact that YSOF
and the CTU are the two leading CT forces and would certainly
need to coordinate operations against AQAP. This exclusion
could be explained, in part, by the fact that YSOF is under
the MOD while the CTU is under the MOI. However, considering
the relatively small size of the CTU, coordination between
the two will still be necessary should the ROYG wish to
effectively target AQAP. The YSOF’s CT battalion alone
contains more soldiers than all four CTU platoons combined.
The YSOF as a whole has approximately 1300 experienced
soldiers stationed in Sana’a, along with regional bases in
Aden, Ma’rib, Hudaydah, and Mukalla (Hadramaut governorate),
but has also engaged in recruiting campaigns in the past few
months resulting in 2,000-4,000 new recruits. The CTU is
best poised to respond to threats within an urban context,
while the YSOF has the manpower to extend its reach to other,
far-flung centers of AQAP activity, where most of the
training camps and leadership are located. However, both the
CTU and YSOF lack air assets and must rely on cooperation and
support from the Yemen Air Force (YAF) to conduct most CT
8. (S/NF) Despite some recent examples of improved quality
of information leading up to CT operations, intelligence gaps
and a lack of transparency between relevant ROYG services
have long hindered CT forces in their attempt to target AQAP.
Given the increased attention from Western nations following
CT operations in December and January and the Christmas Day
bomber attempt over Detroit, this development is a welcome
sign that intelligence-sharing is improving, an area which
CTU leadership and Western partners have long identified as a
weakness in ROYG CT operations. The U.S. and U.K. enjoy a
high level of trust and respect among ROYG intelligence and
CT forces, as demonstrated by our inclusion in strategic
decisions. However, the conspicuous absence of the YSOF in
the center’s plans and its parallel initiatives to establish
an operations center indicate that the rivalry between
Yemen’s two premier CT forces is far from over. END COMMENT.

© Scoop Media

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