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: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula releases propaganda video calling for attacks on U.S.; Aden airport security prevents Hadi government officials from traveling to Beirut; UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen criticizes Saudi-led coalition bombing of al Hudaydah port; ISIS Wilayat al Bayda releases bulletin on indoctrination schools; Hadi government relies on foreign military assistance

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM convoy and patrol near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab detonates IED and seizes military barracks in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab gunmen assassinate SNA soldiers in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) encouraged its followers to attack the U.S. in a video released on April 21. The video features speeches from late AQAP senior leader Anwar al Awlaki and al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. The video characterizes Yemen as a “cemetery” for the United States and describes American casualties in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and America on September 11, 2001.[1] 

Security forces at Aden International Airport refused to allow prominent Southern Movement leaders to board a plane to Beirut on April 20. The delegation included Chief of Staff for the governor of Aden Mansour Zeid, Deputy Security Director for Aden Abu Bakr Jaber, and a number of administrators and tribal representatives. The group intended to meet with representatives of the Berghof Foundation, a German NGO that specializes in preventing political violence. The standoff highlights ongoing tensions between Aden International Airport security director Saleh al Amri and forces allied to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.[2]

UN Resident Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick called on Saudi Arabia not to bomb al Houthi-Saleh-controlled al Hudaydah port on April 20. McGoldrick told reporters in Amman, Jordan, that the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of al Hudaydah port is unnecessary and cuts off aid routes to “the bulk of the population in need.” Abdalraqib Fatah, the Hadi government’s Minister of Local Administration, criticized McGoldrick for overstepping his mandate and attempting to direct military affairs.[3]

ISIS Wilayat al Bayda released a bulletin on April 20 detailing a 50-day indoctrination course for new recruits. The bulletin, titled “Instilling Unification and Correcting the Souls,” includes instructions for ISIS commanders to build a sense of camaraderie among fighters and maintain rapport.[4]

Hadi government forces are growing increasingly dependent on foreign military assistance to move the front line in Taiz governorate. Sudanese armored vehicles began to travel from Aden to the front lines of the Hadi government’s offensive to take areas of Taiz governorate from al Houthi-Saleh forces on April 20. The Hadi government also relied on coalition forces in the battle for Mokha city, when an Emirati armored vehicle unit known as the “Armored Tigers” reportedly countered the al Houthi-Saleh movement’s alleged use of human shields. [5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Kenyan military forces attacked an al Shabaab camp near Badhadhe town in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia, on April 21. Kenyan artillery and ground forces killed 52 al Shabaab militants and destroyed the camp. Kenyan forces serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have increased attacks against al Shabaab militants in southern Somalia in the past two months. Kenyan warplanes killed dozens of al Shabaab militants near El Adde village in Gedo region on April 15.[6]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed AMISOM forces with two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) near Afgoi town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on April 20. The militants detonated a roadside IED targeting an AMISOM convoy traveling from Afgoi to a base in Muuri village. The second IED targeted AMISOM forces on patrol near Afgoi. Pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels claimed that the blasts killed and wounded several AMISOM soldiers. Al Shabaab conducted a similar IED ambush targeting Djiboutian AMISOM troops near Afgoi on April 14.[7] 

Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED inside a cafe in Qoryoley town in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia, on April 21. The blast wounded at least six civilians.  Al Shabaab is competing with Somali security forces for control of Qoryoley, where local officials have demonstrated support for the militant group. A local police chief released five al Shabaab militants from jail on April 17. Pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels claimed that al Shabaab militants seized a military barracks in Qoryoley on April 18. Qoryoley is located 75 miles west of Mogadishu.[8]

Al Shabaab gunmen assassinated at least two Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers near Bakara Market in Mogadishu on April 20. Two militants disguised as soldiers stopped an SNA vehicle near the Bakara Market junction and shot the soldiers inside. Pro-al Shabaab Telegram channels claimed that gunmen assassinated a third soldier in Yaqshid district in Mogadishu. Al Shabaab frequently targets military and government officials as part of an assassination campaign to degrade security in the capital.[9]

[1] “April 21 AQAP Video ‘alt2’,” YouTube, April 21, 2017,
[2] “Military and security leaders prevented from traveling through Aden airport towards Beirut for security reasons,” al Masdar, April 21, 2017,
[3] “UN urges Saudi coalition not to bomb Yemen port,” Al Monitor, April 20, 2017,; and “Yemeni government attacks UN official for identifying directions of fighting,” Barakish, April 21, 2017,
[4] “Latest Islamic State bulletin (Naba’ 77 p. 14),” Twitter, April 20, 2017,
[5] “Commander of the southern forces: UAE has demonstrated its ability in armored combat in the liberation of Mokha,” Aden Tomorrow, April 20, 2017,; and “Arab coalition pushes Sudanese reinforcements to fronts on the west coast,” Aden Tomorrow, April 20, 2017,
[6] Tom Odula, “Kenyan Army Says It Kills 52 al Shabaab Fighters In Somalia,” Associated Press, April 21, 2017,
[7] “IED blast hits AMISOM convoy in Lower Shabelle,” Shabelle News, April 20, 2017,; and Two explosive devices target foot patrol and convoy near Afgoi, Telegram, April 20, 2017. 
[8] “Six hurt as bomb hits a teashop in Qoryoley district,” Shabelle News, April 21, 2017,; “Tension runs high in Qoryoley district,” Shabelle News, April 17, 2017,; and Al Shabaab control military barracks in Qoryoley,” Telegram, April 18, 2017.
[9] “Gunmen kill two government soldiers in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, April 20, 2017,; and Al Shabaab assassinates three members of government military in Hodon and Yaqshid districts, Telegram, April 20, 2017.
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