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: AQAP releases video of Ibrahim al Rubaish; AQAP releases video of kidnapped Saudi diplomat; demonstration in front of U.S. Embassy in Sana’a; gunmen open fire on security director of Taiz governorate; clashes break out between Central Security Forces (CSF) and gunmen near Kalaba, Taiz governorate; gunmen attack military site in Hajjah, Hajjah governorate; 312th Brigade, al Bin Fellah tribesmen clash in Ma’rib governorate, leaving four wounded; Yemeni military transports potential AQAP militants from Ma’rib governorate to Sana’a; al Ahmar releases three detainees from secret prison; security forces apprehend suspects in prison attack in Maghreb ‘Ans district, Dhamar governorate; Yemeni prosecution concludes investigation of interdicted Iranian ship, refers nine to court in Aden;  Ahmed Ali  will decline diplomatic posting in UAE, according to sources; security director of Abyan governorate claims he received death threats from the Bakazam

Horn of Africa: Improvised explosive device (IED) detonates in Beledweyne, Hiraan region; roadside IED targets Heliwa district commissioner in Mogadishu; security in Mogadishu heightened; foreign representatives condemn April 14 attacks in Mogadishu; al Shabaab posts tweets claiming April 14 attacks; al Shabaab reacts to Boston Marathon bombing on Twitter; new police unit deployed to Burhakaba, Bay region; thousands of Somalis protest April 14 al Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu; IGAD calls meeting in Nairobi, Kenya; Somali president condemns Boston Marathon bombing; Human Rights Watch releases statement on al Shabaab attacks; ambassadors from Sweden and the Netherlands present their credentials to the Somali president in Mogadishu; Puntland district elections will take place on June 30

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a speech from its spiritual leader Ibrahim al Rubaish on April 12. Rubaish discussed why negotiations between AQAP and the Yemeni government failed, while stressing that AQAP signed the agreement to show that it is “ready to stop the fighting” if sharia law is implemented in Yemen.[1]
  • Al Malahem Media Foundation, AQAP’s media arm, released a video on April 16 of Abdullah al Khalidi, the Saudi Arabian diplomat who was kidnapped by militants in March 2012.[2]
  • Protesters demonstrated in front of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a on April 16, demanding the release of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Some detainees, including a Yemeni citizen who penned an op-ed in the New York Times on April 15, are currently on hunger strike.[3]
  • Gunmen opened fire on Brigadier General Mohamed Saleh, security director of Taiz governorate, on April 16, wounding three. Saleh escaped unharmed.[4]
  • Violent clashes broke out between Central Security Forces (CSF) and gunmen at a CSF camp called “Nuba” near Kalaba, Taiz governorate. The gunmen attacked the camp with machine guns.[5]
  • Gunmen opened fire on, and tried to break into, the “Cairo” military site in Hajjah, Hajjah governorate on April 14.[6]
  • Troops from the 312th Brigade clashed with tribesmen from the al Bin Fellah tribe in Ma’rib governorate on April 16 after a protest turned violent. Four people, including two soldiers, were wounded.[7]
  • The Yemeni military transported twelve people detained in Ma’rib governorate to Sana’a on April 15 pending criminal investigations. There are reports linking them to AQAP.[8]
  • Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar released three Abyani detainees—Mohamed Ahmed Masoud, Abdullah Ahmed Masoud, and another Abdullah Ahmed Masoud—on April 15. They were held at a secret prison at the headquarters of the First Armored Division for over six years.[9]
  • Security forces apprehended four suspects accused of attacking the prison in Maghreb ‘Ans district, Dhamar governorate and wounding the security director on April 16.[10]
  • The Yemeni prosecution has concluded its investigation of the Jihan, the Iranian ship that was seized in mid-January with a weapons cache on board, and has referred nine suspects to the Specialized Criminal Court in Aden. The suspects are accused of complicity in a conspiracy to challenge the territorial integrity of Yemen and endanger its security. The trials will likely begin on April 22.[11]
  • Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, will reportedly decline a diplomatic position in the United Arab Emirates under pressure from his father, according to sources in the General People’s Congress (GPC). [12]
  • Brigadier Omar Ali Abdullah, security director of Abyan governorate, claimed on April 16 that he has received multiple death threats from a person claiming to be affiliated with the Bakazam tribe after the deputy director of security for financial affairs in Abyan was replaced.[13]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A remote controlled improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Beledweyne, Hiraan region on April 16. The explosion was targeting Somali and AMISOM troops in the area. One Somali soldier and one civilian were injured. No group has claimed responsibility.[14]
  • A roadside IED targeted the Heliwa district commissioner in Mogadishu on April 15. No one was hurt in the explosion and no group has claimed responsibility.[15]
  • Security personnel in Mogadishu have been kept on high alert following the April 14 al Shabaab attacks.[16]
  • Representatives from the European Union, Turkey, Italy and Yemen have all condemned the April 14 acts of terror in Mogadishu.[17]
  • Al Shabaab posted eleven tweets to its English language Twitter account on April 14 claiming responsibility for the suicide attacks that took place in Mogadishu on that day, and promising to continue carrying out similar attacks. Al Shabaab’s military spokesman, Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Mus’ab, speaking to Reuters, said that even more lethal attacks were on the way.[18]
  • Al Shabaab reacted to the Boston Marathon attack on its Twitter account on April 16, saying that the attacks “are just a tiny fraction of what US soldiers inflict upon millions of innocent Muslims across the globe on a daily basis.”[19] 
  • A new unit of 200 Somali police officers was deployed to Burhakaba, Bay region and will be operational before April 20.[20]
  • Thousands of Somali citizens protested al Shabaab’s twin suicide attacks during a demonstration in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu on April 15.[21]
  • The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on April 16 to discuss the continuing problem of forming a Jubbaland government.[22]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud strongly condemned the Boston Marathon attacks that took place on April 15.[23]
  • Human Rights Watch released a statement on April 16 labeling al Shabaab’s terrorist attacks as war crimes and saying that Somali judges and lawyers need proper protection in order to ensure the success of the Somali judicial system.[24]
  • Ambassadors from Sweden and the Netherlands presented their credentials to Somali President Mohamud in Mogadishu on April 16.[25]
  • Puntland district elections will take place on June 30 according to the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission.[26]    

[1] “AQAP Official Discusses Failure in Negotiations with Yemeni Government,” SITE Intel Group, April 15, 2013. Available at SITE.
[2] “Saudi diplomat kidnapped in Yemen in new video plea,” AFP, April 16, 2013. Available:
[3] “Demonstration of support for Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo in front of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a,” France 24, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, “Gitmo Is Killing Me,” New York Times, April 15, 2013. Available:
[4] “Gunmen fire on security director of Taiz and wound three,” Al Motamar, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Taiz: Violent clashes after gunmen attacked the Central Security camp in Kalaba,” Akhbar al Yom, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Hajjah: Gunmen fire at Cairo military site, attempt to break in,” Mareb Press, April 15, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Protest demanding electricity evolves into an armed clash in eastern Yemen,” Al Masdar Online, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] "Yemeni Interior Ministry: Military helicopter transported 12 defendants requiring security from Ma’rib to Sana'a,” Al Tagheer, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“12 suspects apprehend in Ma’rib, require helicopter to travel to Sana’a for security reasons,” Akhbar al Yom, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Ali Mohsen al Ahmar releases 3 southerners after their arrest more than 6 years ago,” Barakish, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Dhamar: 4 suspects in the attack on the prison and the security director in ‘Ans apprehended,” Al Tagheer, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[11] “The prosecution completes the investigation of the Iranian ship Jihan and refers 9 suspects to the court,” Aden al Ghad, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“The trial of nine defendants in the case Iranian arms ship will start next Monday,” 26 September, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[12] “Sources in the GPC say Ahmed Ali declined to accept the post of ambassador under pressure from his father,” Al Masdar Online, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[13] “Abyan security director: I received death threats for changing the deputy for financial affairs,” Akhbar al Yom, April 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[14] “Explosion at Beledweyne,” Shabelle, April 16, 2013. Available:
[15] “Somalia: Mogadishu District Commissioner Escapes Bomb Blast,” Raxanreeb, April 16, 2013. Available:
[16] “Somalia: Mogadishu Remains on High Alert after Deadly Attacks on Sunday,” Raxanreeb, April 15, 2013. Available:
[17]“Mogadishu: The Condolence of Monti for the Victims of the Attacks,” Shabelle, April 16, 2013. Available:
“Turkey Vows Continued Support to Somalia after Attack,” Shabelle, April 16, 2013. Available:
“Somalia: EU HR Ashton Condemns Attacks in Mogadishu,” European Union, April 15, 2013. Available:
“Yemen Condemns Terrorist Bombings in Somalia,” Saba News, April 15, 2013. Available:
[18] “Shabaab Claims Suicide Raids in Somali Capital,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 15, 2013. Available at SITE.
“Somali Militants Threaten More Attacks After Killing 30,” Hiiraan Online, April 16, 2013. Available:
[19] “HSM Press Tweet: #BostonBombings,” HSM Press, April 16, 2013. Available:
[20] “Somalia: New Police Unit to Operate in Burhakaba Town,” Raxanreeb, April 16, 2013. Available:
[21] “Somalia: Public Gathering Denounces Yesterday’s Court Attack Which Killed Dozens,” Raxanreeb, April 15, 2013. Available:
[22] “IGAD Invites Somali Politicians for Juba Land Talks,” Shabelle, April 16, 2013. Available:
[23] “President Hassan Condemns the Boston Attack,” Shabelle, April 16, 2013. Available:
[24] “Somali Judges Need Protection from Islamist Rebels: Rights Group,” Reuters, April 16, 2013. Available:
[25] “Ambassadors from Sweden and the Netherlands Present Credentials in Mogadishu,” Shabelle, April 16, 2013. Available:
[26] “Somalia: Puntland District Elections Set for June 30th,” Garowe Online, April 15, 2013. Available:
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