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}}



The October 10, 2023 edition of the Gulf of Aden Security Review will be the final edition. Future updates on the conflict in Yemen will be found in CTP’s Iran Updates, while future updates on the conflict in Somalia will be covered in CTP’s Salafi-Jihadi Movement Update.

Yemen: Houthi supreme leader congratulates Hamas for attack against Israel; Houthi spokesperson condemns UAE’s statement on Hamas attack on Israel; Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials in Yemen give speeches to fundraise for Hamas and Palestine

Somalia: Somali and international partner airstrike targets al Shabaab strongholds in south-central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Houthi supreme leader Abdul Malik al Houthi released a speech on October 10 in which he congratulated Hamas for its terrorist attack against Israel on October 7.[i] Abdul Malik threatened that the Houthi movement would respond with drones, missiles, and other military options if the United States intervened in the Gaza War. Houthi also said that the statements of the “normalizing” Arab states reveals the “extent of their loyalty to the Israeli enemy.” He concluded by adding that the Houthis are coordinating their responses with Iran’s Axis of Resistance, and remain in “continuing coordination.”

Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam condemned the UAE’s statement on the Hamas attack on Israel on October 9.[ii] Abdul Salam said that the Palestinians and the “Ummah” will not tolerate “any party that” covers Israel’s actions. He claimed that the UAE is “openly involved” in massacres against the Palestinians. The UAE Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep dissatisfaction” with the reports that Hamas targeted civilians in a statement on October 8.[iii] The UAE also called for broader regional calm and said it would work with international partners to reduce tensions.

Moaz Abu Shamala, Hamas’s Yemen-based leader, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Yemen-based leader Ahmed Baraka gave speeches on October 7 during a march in support of the Hamas attack into Israel.[iv] Both men called for financial support for Hamas and Palestine.

Somalia Security Brief

Somali security forces with international partner support launched airstrikes targeting three al Shabaab bases in the three al Shabaab–controlled regional capitals in the Middle Jubba region, south-central Somalia, on October 10.[v] Somali officials said the strikes destroyed bases and weapon stores in Bu’ale, Jilib, and Sakow.[vi]

[i] SABA Houthi, “Text of the Revolutionary Leader’s speech on the latest developments in the Palestinian arena,” October 10, 2023,

[ii] Mohammed Abdul Salam, Twitter, October 9, 2023,

[iii] UAE Foreign Ministry, “In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for the protection of civilians and stressed that the immediate priority is to end the violence and protect civilians,” October 8, 2023,

[iv] 26September News, “Yemeni mobilization to support the Palestinian people,” October 7, 2023,

[v] Khadar Aweys, “Operations against Al-Shabaab terrorists carried out in the Middle Jubba region,” SONNA, October 10, 2023,

[vi] Guuleed Muuse, “Al-Shabaab weapons depots in the Middle Juba region were attacked,” Caasimada, October 10, 2023,

Yemen: AQAP VBIED targets STC-backed commander in Abyan; Yemeni outlet claims Houthis are planning to install Iranian-trained Houthi ideologues to ministerial positions; UN Special Envoy visits Qatar

Somalia: Clan elders in central Somalia agree to join offensive against al Shabaab; SNA and international partners conduct airstrikes in al Shabaab–controlled south-central Somalia; Somali security forces seize al Shabaab vehicle loaded with weapons; SNA and local clan militia clash in central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting the commander of the Southern Transitional Council (STC)-backed Special Security Forces in Zinjibar, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on October 2.[i] The AQAP VBIED wounded 5 STC-backed fighters.

Yemeni media outlet al Montasaf claimed on September 30 that the Houthis are planning to replace ministerial and administrative officials in the civil and military services with Iranian-trained Houthi ideologues from Saada.[ii]

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg met with the Qatari minister of state for international cooperation to discuss the UN-brokered truce in Yemen on October 3.[iii]

Somalia Security Brief

Clan elders from three major Hawiye subclans agreed to join forces in an offensive against al Shabaab after a meeting in Wara Dhumale, Dhusamareb district, Galgudud region, central Somalia, on October 2.[iv] The de facto Hiraan regional governor, and other lawmakers, ministers, and army commanders attended the meeting and discussed offensive operations in the Hiraan and Galgudud regions.[v]

The Somali National Army (SNA) with international partner support launched airstrikes targeting al Shabaab bases in al Shabaab–controlled Bu’ale, Middle Juba region, south-central Somalia, on October 2.[vi] The airstrikes launched by SNA forces and KDF targeted Bu’ale district headquarters, an al Shabaab training camp, and a building on the Bu’ale bridge where al Shabaab members were meeting.[vii]

Somali security forces seized an al Shabaab vehicle loaded with explosives, weapons, and other ammunition near Dolow, Gedo region, southwestern Somalia, on October 1.[viii] Locals tipped off security officials about an impending attack.

SNA forces and local clan militia clashed near Mahas, Hirran region, central Somalia, on October 1.[ix] The fighting began after an SNA soldier killed a civilian and killed three soldiers and three militia fighters.[x]

[i] Dera al Ganoob, “Details of the terrorist bombing that targeted the convoy of Major General Ba’esh in Zanzibar, Abyan,” October 2, 2023,

[ii] Al Montasaf, “The Houthi militia brings in members trained in Iran to replace them in leadership positions,” September 30, 2023,

[iii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, “Qatar enters the Yemen war line and international action takes place in Doha!” October 3, 2023,

[iv] Radio Dalsan, “Major clan leaders unite to battle Al-Shabaab militants in Galmudug and Hirshabelle,” October 2, 2023,

[v] Jamaal Maxamed, “Habar-Gidir, Murusade and Hawadle agreed to…” Caasimada, October 2, 2023,

[vi] Radio Mogadishu, “Bombings destroyed bases where the Khawarij militias were in Middle Jubba,” October 3, 2023,

[vii] Guuleed Muuse, “Al-Shabaab bases in Bu'ale were bombed,” Caasimada, October 3, 2023,

[viii] Shabelle Media, “Somali security forces intercept car bomb in Dolow, Gedo region,” October 1, 2023,

[ix] Shabelle Media, “SNA forces clash with Pro-Govt clan militia in central Somali town,” October 1, 2023,

[x] Zahra Axmed Gacal, “Interview: The Mahaas administration announced the loss of the war that took place there,” Caasimada, October 1, 2023,

Yemen: AQAP-linked media unit says AQAP does not target Abyan’s tribes; AQAP fighters detonate IED targeting STC-backed forces in Abyan; Houthi forces arrest scores of peaceful protesters; STC media reports that STC-backed forces raid AQAP camp; AQAP fighters detonate three IEDs, killing 5 SDF fighters in Abyan

Somalia: Al Shabaab conducts three more suicide bombings; ATMIS countries support SFG request to delay ATMIS drawdown; Somali forces arrest al Shabaab arms dealer

Yemen Security Brief

An al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-linked media unit said that AQAP does not target the tribes in Abyan, and that AQAP only fights the “apostate mercenaries.”[i]

Likely AQAP fighters detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting STC-backed forces on September 28 near Qarn Amaram, Mudiyah district, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen.[ii] The IED killed no STC-backed fighters.

The Houthi movement arrested “scores” of peaceful protesters who were commemorating the September 26th Revolution.[iii] A local reporter told Amnesty International that the Houthis are holding “hundreds” of protesters in Sana’a. Houthi supporters also attacked protesters during the demonstrations on September 26.

Southern Transitional Council (STC) media reported on September 26 that STC-backed forces raided an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula camp and captured ammunition and explosive devices in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen.[iv] STC media said the site was an “AQAP stronghold” after they fled from Wadi Omran.

AQAP fighters detonated three IEDs targeting STC forces in the Hajla region of Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, on September 26.[v] The IEDs killed five STC fighters.

Somalia Security Brief

Al Shabaab conducted a double suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack near Dhusamareb town, Galgaduud region, north-central Somalia. One SVBIED detonated along the road leading to the town’s airport and the other near a checkpoint in the town.[vi] Al Shabaab claimed the SVBIEDs were targeting the presidential palace and the checkpoint guarding the palace, indicating security forces interdicted the SVBIEDs before they reached their intended targets.[vii] The Somali president and other Somali Federal Government (SFG) officials are in Dhusamareb rallying support for an offensive against al Shabaab’s remaining havens in central Somalia.[viii]

Al Shabaab conducted an SVBIED attack at a market in Bulo Burde town, Hiiraan region, central Somalia, on September 28.[ix] The attack killed six civilians and injured 15 others.

An al Shabaab suicide bomber targeted a restaurant near a state forces camp in Sayidka junction, Wardhigley district, Mogadishu, on September 29. The Somali police spokesperson said the attack killed at least five people, while local observers said it killed at least seven.[xi] Al Shabaab claimed the attack targeted a gathering of army officers, killing at least 11 people and injuring 18 others.[xii]

African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troop-contributing countries sent a letter to the UN Security Council on September 29 supporting Somalia’s request to delay the scheduled ATMIS drawdown.[xiii] Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, and Burundi co-signed the letter to delay the scheduled September 30 drawdown of 3,000 ATMIS troops.[xiv]

Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency forces (NISA) arrested an al Shabaab arms dealer on September 29. NISA officials said that the dealer was fleeing to al Shabaab–controlled territory and led a network that smuggled military equipment from abroad.[xv]

[i] SITE Intelligence Group, “AQAP-linked Unit Insists ‘Righteous Arrows’ Campaign Does Not Target Abyan Tribes, Assures Independent Retributions For Associates of UAE-backed STC Forces,” September 28, 2023, Available by Subscription At:

[ii] Al Mashhad al Yemeni, ”A violent explosion targets security forces in Abyan after controlling the last stronghold of al Qaeda,” September 28, 2023,

[iii] Amnesty International, ”Yemen: Wave of Arrests by Houthi De Facto Authorities Following Demonstrations,” September 29, 2023,

[iv] Dera al Ganoob, ”Five heroes of our forces were martyred while clearing a new stronghold of terrorist elements east of Mudiyah district,” September 26, 2023,

[v] Dera al Ganoob, ”Five heroes of our forces were martyred while clearing a new stronghold of terrorist elements east of Mudiyah district,” September 26, 2023,

[vi] Garowe Online, “Twin al Shabaab morning car bomb attack targets Somalia,” September 28, 2023,

[vii] SITE Intelligence Group, “Shabaab Claims Double Suicide Bombing in Dhusamareb During Visit of Somali President,” September 28, 2023, available by subscription at

[viii] Jamaal Maxamed, “Photos: R/W the country’s deputy landed in Dhusamareb,” Caasimada, September 28, 2023,

[ix] Hussein Mohamed, @HussienM12, Twitter, September 28, 2023,

[x] Jamaal Maxamed, “A suicide bombing occurred in Buuloburde district,” Caasimada, September 28, 2023,

[xi] Hiraan Online, “5 dead as suicide bomber targets restaurant in Somali capital,” September 29, 2023,; Hussein Mohamed, @HussienM12, Twitter, September 29, 2023,

[xii] SITE Intelligence Group, “Shabaab Continues Suicide Bomber Deployment, Strikes Close to Presidential Palace in Capital,” September 29, 2023, available by subscription at

[xiii] Goobjoog News, “Regional states supports Somalia’s proposal to halt ATMIS troops drawdown,” September 29, 2023,

[xiv] The East African, “Somalia asks UN Security Council to delay Atmis troop drawdown,” September 22, 2023,

[xv] Goobjoog News, “NISA arrests suspected Al-Shabaab arms smuggler,” September 29, 2023,

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