Gulf of Aden Security Review

A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.{{authorBox.message}}

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Yemen: AQAP claims killing al Houthi commander in al Bayda governorate; Hadhrami Elite Forces shoot live ammunition at protestors in Hadramawt governorate; Hadi government–aligned forces clash with al Houthis in Sana’a governorate

Horn of Africa: SNA kills al Shabaab militants in Galmudug State; SNA kills al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; KDF kills al Shabaab militants near Somali-Kenyan border; suspected al Shabaab militants detonate IED in Lower Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed on September 21 killing an al Houthi commander in central Yemen’s al Bayda governorate on September 20. AQAP also claimed targeting al Houthi positions with mortar in al Bayda governorate’s Sawma’ah district that same day. The al Houthi movement claimed clearing AQAP militants from al Bayda governorate in mid-August.[1]

Hadhrami Elite Forces fired live ammunition at protestors in al Mukalla in eastern Yemen’s Hadramawt governorate on September 20, according to locals. Protestors had been demonstrating against inefficient public services. The Hadhrami Elite Forces is an Emirati-backed counterterrorism force.[2]

Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi clashed with al Houthi militants in Nihm district in central Yemen’s Sana’a governorate on September 23. Hadi government–aligned forces claimed retaking al Houthi–held areas in Nihm district in mid-September.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

The Somali National Army (SNA) killed 16 al Shabaab militants in central Somalia’s Galmudug State on September 21. Al Shabaab militants conducted a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) attack, targeting an SNA checkpoint in Galmudug in late June.[4]

The SNA killed 12 al Shabaab militants in Barire town in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on September 21. The SNA previously killed 13 al Shabaab militants in Barire town on September 20.[5]

The Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) killed five al Shabaab militants in Lafey town in northeastern Kenya’s Mandera County near the Somali-Kenyan border on September 21. A suspected al Shabaab IED killed a security official in Mandera County in early September.[6]

Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a roadside bomb in Afgoi town in Lower Shabelle region on September 23. The explosion killed one person and wounded two others. Al Shabaab militants allegedly attacked security checkpoints in Afgoi in late August.[7]


[1] “AQAP Resumes Issuing Military Communiques After 5 Months, Claims Killing Houthi Commander and Shelling Houthi Position in Bayda’,” SITE Intelligence Group, September 21, 2020, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Matthew Eady and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 21, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 21, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-21-2020.

[2] “Yemen: UAE-backed forces disperse demonstrators with live ammunition,” Middle East Monitor, September 23, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200923-yemen-uae-backed-forces-disperse-demonstrators-with-live-ammunition/; and Maher Farrukh, Tyler Nocita, and Emily Estelle, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 16, 2017,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 16, 2017, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-16-2017.

[3] “He was wounded previously and returned from Egypt two months ago, the martyrdom of a National Army official on Nihm front,” Yemen Akhbar, September 23, 2020, https://www.yemenakhbar.com/2552022; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 16, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 16, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-16-2020.

[4] “Army kills several Al-Shabaab militants in central Somalia,” Garowe, September 22, 2020, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/army-kills-several-al-shabaab-militants-in-central-somalia; and Zachary Jaynes and Matthew Eady, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – June 22, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, June 22, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-june-22-2020.

[5] “Somalia claims army gains the upper hand in war on Al-Shabaab,” Garowe, September 22, 2020, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/sna-soldiers-declare-victory-against-al-shabaab-in-lower-shabelle; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 28, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 28, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-28-2020.

[6] “KDF soldier, five al-Shabaab militants killed in Mandera ambush,” Hiiraan, September 22, 2020, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2020/Sept/180044/kdf_soldier_five_alshabaab_militants_killed_in_mandera_ambush.aspx; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 14, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 14, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-14-2020.

[7] Abdirisak M Tuuryare, “Deadly Blast Kills 1, Wounds 2 in Somalia,” Mareeg, September 23, 2020, https://mareeg.com/deadly-blast-kills-1-wounds-2-in-somalia/; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 16, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 16, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-16-2020.

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Yemen: Al Houthis launch projectile toward village in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan region; Hadi government–aligned forces claim ambushing al Houthis in al Jawf governorate; Saudi-led coalition forces launch airstrikes on al Houthis in northern Yemeni governorates

Horn of Africa: SNA kills 13 al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; pro–al Shabaab media claims al Shabaab attacked Kenyan military base in Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Houthi militants launched an unspecified projectile toward a village in southwestern Saudi Arabia’s Jizan region on September 19. Shrapnel from the projectile injured five civilians and damaged three vehicles. Saudi-led coalition forces intercepted an al Houthi drone targeting Abha airport in the kingdom’s southwestern Asir region on September 17.[1]

Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi claimed ambushing al Houthi militants in Bir al Mazariq area of northern Yemen’s al Jawf governorate. Hadi government–aligned forces claimed attacking al Houthi militants in al Jawf governorate in early September in an attempt to advance toward the governorate’s capital.[2]

Saudi-led coalition forces launched airstrikes targeting al Houthi militants across northern Yemen’s Ma’rib, al Jawf, and Amran governorates on September 20. Hadi government–aligned forces clashed with al Houthi militants west of Ma’rib governorate’s Sirwah district on September 17.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

The Somali National Army (SNA) killed 13 al Shabaab militants in Barire town in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region on September 20. SNA forces also removed al Shabaab landmines in the area. A US Africa Command airstrike targeted an al Shabaab militant known for his bomb-making expertise in Lower Shabelle region in late August.[4]

Pro–al Shabaab media outlet Somalimemo reported that al Shabaab militants attacked a Kenyan military base in Bilis Qoqani town in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on September 21. A suspected al Shabaab militant conducted a suicide vest attack outside a mosque in Lower Jubba’s Kismayo city in mid-September.[5]


[1] “5 Civilians Hurt in Houthi Attack on Saudi Arabia,” Voice of America, September 20, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/5-civilians-hurt-houthi-attack-saudi-arabia; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 18, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-18-2020.

[2] “National Army surprises al Houthis in al Jawf governorate and invaded their sites,” Mareb Press, September 20, 2020, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=167325; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 9, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 9, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-9-2020.

[3] “Coalition fighters target the Houthis with more than 25 raids in Ma’rib, al Jawf, and Amran,” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, September 20, 2020, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/179442; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 18, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 18, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-18-2020.

[4] “Somali military says it killed 13 militants in Lower Shabelle,” Hiiraan, September 21, 2020, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2020/Sept/180039/somali_military_says_it_killed_13_militants_in_lower_shabelle.aspx; “Somalia says army kills 12 Shabab militants,” Xinhua, September 21, 2020, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-09/21/c_139385606.htm; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 9, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 9, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-9-2020.

[5] “Al Shabaab attacks against the base of Safballaaran Kenya,” Somalimemo, September 21, 2020, https://somalimemo.net/articles/11066/Xoogagga-Al-Shabaab-oo-Weeraro-Safballaaran-ah-ku-qaadday-Saldhigga-ciidanka-Kenya-ee-Qooqaani; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 11, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 11, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-11-2020.

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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition intercepts al Houthi drone targeting airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia; prisoner exchange talks between Hadi government and al Houthis begin in Geneva; Hadi government–aligned forces clash with al Houthis in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Somali military court convicts al Shabaab militant involved in Manda Bay attack; suspected al Shabaab militants assassinate regional official in Middle Shabelle region; unidentified gunmen shoot and kill teachers in Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief:

Saudi-led coalition forces intercepted an al Houthi drone targeting Abha airport in the kingdom’s southwestern Asir region on September 17. The al Houthi movement previously launched drones targeting the airport on September 9.[1]

Local Yemeni media reported that an al Houthi delegation and a delegation from the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi began meetings in the Swizz Capital of Geneva on September 18. An al Houthi delegation flew from the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, to Switzerland on September 15.[2]

Hadi government–aligned forces clashed with al Houthi militants on al Makhdara front, west of Sirwah district, in northern Yemen’s Ma’rib governorate on September 17. Hadi government–aligned forces claimed retaking al Houthi–held territory on al Makhdara front in early September.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

A Somali military court convicted an al Shabaab militant to life in prison for participating in the Manda Bay attack on a military base housing US soldiers in January. The militant said he joined the group in 2010 and helped transport explosives used in the attack, which killed three Americans.[4]

Suspected al Shabaab militants assassinated a regional minister for the ministry of religious affairs in Jowhar in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region on September 17. Al Shabaab claimed killing a regional official in Jowhar in mid-August.[5]

Unknown gunmen shot and killed at least five teachers at a Qur’anic school in Adale town in Middle Shabelle region on September 17. Local media reported that the shooting is likely related to clan clashes.[6]


[1] “The Houthis announce the bombing of a military target in Abha airport, and Saudi Arabia confirms thwarting an air attack,” Al Jazeera, September 17, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2020/9/17/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ad%d9%88%d8%ab%d9%8a%d9%88%d9%86-%d9%8a%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%86%d9%88%d9%86-%d9%82%d8%b5%d9%81-%d9%87%d8%af%d9%81-%d8%b9%d8%b3%d9%83%d8%b1%d9%8a-%d8%a8%d9%85%d8%b7%d8%a7%d8%b1; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 9, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 9, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-9-2020.

[2] “Urgent: The start of a meeting between the legitimate delegation and Houthis,” Mareb Press, September 18, 2020, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=167257; “Talks between government of Sana’a and Hadi in Switzerland on prisoner exchange,” Alalam TV, September 18, 2020, https://www.alalamtv.net/news/5166471; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 16, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 16, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-16-2020.

[3] “Battle developments on al Makhdara and al Majmu’a fronts in Ma’rib,” Khabar Agency, September 18, 2020, https://www.khabaragency.net/news132360.html; and Rahma Bayrakdar and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – September 4, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, September 4, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-september-4-2020.

[4] “Somalia: Militant plotted raid at US Base in Kenya slapped with life in jail,” Garowe, September 18, 2020, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-militant-plotted-raid-at-us-base-in-kenya-slapped-with-life-in-jail; “Al-Shabab militant jailed for attack on US base in Kenya,” Hiiraan, September 17, 2020, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2020/Sept/179979/al_shabab_militant_jailed_for_attack_on_us_base_in_kenya.aspx; and Emily Estelle, “Africa File,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 10, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/africa-file/africa-file-january-9-2020-briefing.

[5] “Regional minister killed in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, September 17, 2020, https://www.radioshabelle.com/regional-minister-killed-in-somalia/; and Matthew Eady and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – August 19, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, August 19, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-august-19-2020.

[6] “At least five teachers killed in Somalia,” Mareeg, September 17, 2020, https://mareeg.com/at-least-five-teachers-killed-by-gunmen-in-somalia/; and “Five Quran teachers dead in Middle Shabelle fighting,” Hiiraan, September 17, 2020, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2020/Sept/179994/five_quran_teachers_dead_in_middle_shabelle_fighting.aspx.

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