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.

Yemen: Hadi government-aligned militias claim to control Camp Khaled ibn Walid in western Taiz governorate; Sana’a court sentences Yemeni journalist to death for espionage; militants free 23 prisoners from jail in Aden city; AQAP releases video showing interrogation of al Houthi-Saleh captives; Hadi government forces begin advance into Midi city, Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Kenyan security forces warn of impending terrorist attacks in Kenya; Somali president vows to secure Mogadishu in wake of al Shabaab attacks

Yemen Security Brief

Militias aligned with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government claimed to control Camp Khaled ibn Walid in Taiz governorate, western Yemen on April 12. Official Hadi government sources announced that pro-Hadi forces had reached the outskirts of the camp earlier on April 12, but have not yet confirmed the takeover. Camp Khaled ibn Walid has suffered major damage from the Saudi-led coalition air campaign but remains a key strategic site along the road between Taiz city and Mokha city.[1] 

The al Houthi-Saleh Special Criminal Court in Sana’a sentenced Yemeni journalist Yahya Abdul Raqib al Jubaihi to death for espionage on April 12. The court accused the 61-year-old al Jubaihi of reporting on  al Houthi-Saleh military, political, and economic developments to Saudi officials. The Yemeni Journalists’ Union condemned the sentence as an “atrocity, indicating an overwhelming desire to liquidate all differing opinions.” Al Houthi-Saleh forces arrested al Jubaihi outside his Sana’a home on September 6, 2016.[2] 

Militants stormed the Sheikh Othman police station in Aden city and freed 23 prisoners on April 12. The prison break may be related to rising tensions between security officials and civilians over the arbitrary detentions of young men on terrorism charges. Demonstrators protesting arbitrary detentions of civilians by security forces blocked a major road in neighboring Khormaksar district on April 13. Protesters temporarily clashed with security forces as government forces attempted to break up the demonstration. Alternately, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may have orchestrated the prison break to free militants, as it has several times in the past.[3]

AQAP released a three-minute video showing the interrogation of two al Houthi-Saleh captives on April 12. AQAP released the first video in this series on April 8. The video claims that the prisoners are treated well.[4]

Hadi government forces began an offensive into Midi city, Hajjah governorate, on April 12 after establishing a blockade around the city. Hadi government forces have besieged Midi for over a week with the intention of forcing al Houthi-Saleh forces to surrender.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan security forces warned that al Shabaab militants are attempting to enter the country to conduct terrorist attacks during the Easter holiday. Kenyan security officials named nine al Shabaab suspects, all Kenyan nationals, who are accused of fighting with al Shabaab against Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) in Somalia. Kenya conducted a series of military operations against al Shabaab in areas along the Kenyan-Somali border in the past month. Al Shabaab typically conducts terrorist attacks in Kenya in retaliation for Kenyan military operations in Somalia. Al Shabaab attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013 in response to Kenya’s Operation Linda Nchi, an offensive operation against al Shabaab in southern Somalia that lasted from October 2011 to March 2012.[6] 

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo vowed to restore security to Mogadishu during a ceremony marking the 57th anniversary of the establishment of the Somali National Army (SNA) on April 12. President Farmajo said that he will reinstate military commanders who led operations to recapture Mogadishu from al Shabaab in 2011, when the militant group controlled nearly the entire city. The new security operation will aim to secure the capital before targeting al Shabaab in the surrounding regions. President Farmajo’s announcement follows a series of mass-casualty attacks targeting SNA commanders in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab launched a series of attacks in the capital after President Farmajo declared war on the group on April 6.[7]

[1] “Breaking: Army controls Khaled ibn Walid camp west of Taiz,” Aden Lange, April 12, 2017,; and “National Army tightens noose on Camp Khaled as militias flee,” Sabanew, April 12, 2017,
[2] “Al Jubaihi sentenced to death on charges of spying for the aggression,” Sabanews, April 12, 2017,; “Houthis issue a death sentence against a journalist in Sana’a,” Barakish, April 12, 2017,; and “Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate condemns the militia’s death sentence against journalist al Jubaihi,” Sabanew, April 12, 2017,
[3] “Gunmen attacked a police station in Aden and 23 escaped prisoners convicted in serious cases,” al Masdar, April 13, 2017,; “Security intervenes and opens up the roads cut in Khor Maksar .. and clashing with gunmen,” Aden Lang, April 13, 2017,; and “The closure of several roads incense crushed to demand the release of detainees,” Aden Tomorrow, April 13, 2017,
[4] AQAP releases “Appeals of Houthi prisoners with the Mujahideen of Ansar al Sharia (2),” Telegram, April 13, 2017.
[5] “Army breaks in to Midi city streets, fighting a war with the Houthis,” Barakish, April 12, 2017,
[6] Cyrus Ombati, “Police issue alert on terror attack in Kenya,” Standard Media, April 13, 2017,; and “Operation Linda Nchi,” Critical Threats Project, October 24, 2011,
[7] “Somali President vows to restore Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, April 13, 2017,
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