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 shari'a official answers questions on strength of group; AQAP and tribal militants kill 13 soldiers in Ma'rib in two separate incidents; tribe attacks Republican Guard unit in Lahij; mass protests in Sana'a and Taiz; security forces arrest defected military officers

Horn of Africa: TFG and AMISOM troops clash with al Shabaab in Mogadishu; al Shabaab claims to have killed 40 people in Elwaq in Gedo region; Kenyan police warn of al Shabaab Easter attacks; Ahlu Sunna arrests at least seven people in Gedo region for disrupting the peace; foreign navy forces destroy pirate mother ship

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) shari'a official Sheikh Abu Zubair Adil al Abab answered questions from jihadists in an online chat-room. Abab answered a question on the strength of al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen. He said that al Qaeda militants are in Sa’ada governorate to counter the threat from the al Houthi. In al Jawf and Ma’rib governorates, al Qaeda has increased in strength, and in Shabwah governorate, it controls the capital city and has instituted shari’a. Al Qaeda militants control Jaar in Abyan governorate, and have called for shari’a. Finally, in Sana’a governorate, the number has fluctuated. Abab ended the interview by asking for donations saying that money is needed to buy weapons and that if AQAP had more money, it would be able to capture Zinjibar and Aden.[1]
  • A Yemeni security official reported that AQAP militants “ambushed a military patrol in Marib near Safer,” where Ma’rib’s oil fields are located, and killed 11 soldiers. In an unrelated incident, soldiers fought with tribesmen in Ma’rib. Two soldiers were killed and two others wounded. The tribe took thirty soldiers prisoner.[2]
  • Authorities reported that tribesmen surrounded a Republican Guard military outpost and attacked the unit after the soldiers refused to leave the village of Labus in Lahij governorate. The ensuing fight killed six soldiers and two tribesmen, according to a security official. Five other people were injured in the clash.[3]
  • Nearly one million pro- and anti-government demonstrators took to the streets in Sana'a. Anti-government protestors marched out of Change Square onto Sixty Meter Street, Sana'a's longest road, calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate departure. President Saleh has welcomed the GCC’s newest transition plan, but said that any actions needed to be “within the framework of the Yemen constitution.” Hundreds of thousands of people also demonstrated in Taiz, where security forces fired shots into the air to keep the two crowds apart.[4]
  • Yemeni security forces arrested several senior defected military officers after a demonstration by soldiers and pilots at al Anad air base in Lahij governorate.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers backed by AMISOM troops exchanged machine-gun and mortar fire with al Shabaab in Mogadishu's Bondhere district. Local reports suggest the clash in Mogadishu occurred shortly after TFG troops, along with AMISOM peacekeepers, launched closely coordinated attacks on al Shabaab bases in Banadir region. Medics estimated that the fighting in Mogadishu killed at least seven people and wounded more than 13 other people.[6]
  • Al Shabaab released a communiqué on jihadist forums in which the group claimed to have killed at least 40 people in a battle with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a when militants attacked an Ahlu Sunna camp near the town of Elwaq in the Gedo region. Al Shabaab claimed to have gained control of the camp and to have seized light arms, including at least 15 machine guns and ammunition, six mortar cannons, and three military vehicles. Two of the seized vehicles are reportedly equipped with 108mm anti-aircraft machine guns.[7]
  • Kenyan Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere warned of an imminent al Shabaab attack saying, "We wish to inform the public that police headquarters has received intelligence that al Shabaab terrorist group has threatened to carry out violent attacks on certain targets in our major population centres...I wish to assure the public that in conjunction with other security services, we have taken measures to improve security in and around the possible targets by among others increasing security surveillance patrols."[8]
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a forces arrested at least seven people accused of disrupting the peace in Beled Hawo in the Gedo region. The Ahlu Sunna spokesman in Gedo region, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al Qadi, said that investigations are ongoing.[9]
  • A second raid by foreign naval forces on a suspected pirate mother ship near Hobyo destroyed the boat. Witnesses report that a military helicopter opened fire on the boat. A day earlier, foreign naval forces attacked the same ship between Hobyo and Eel Dhanane, killing at least four pirates and injuring six others. Helicopters were part of the operation.[10]

[1] "Chatroom of Minbar al-Ansar Hosts Interview with AQAP Shariah Official," Site Intel Group, April 21, 2011. Available at SITE.
[3] "8 die as tribesmen, troops clash in south Yemen," AFP, April 22, 2011. Available:
[4] "Vast crowds rally in Yemen for and against Saleh," Reuters, April 22, 2011. Available:
Mohammed Hatem and Benjamin Harvey, "Yemenis Out in Force in 'Last Chance Friday' Bid to Oust Saleh," Bloomberg, April 22, 2011. Available:
[5] "Yemen Army Officers Arrested for Backing Protest," AP, April 22, 2011. Available:
[6] "Somali forces, Al shabaab confront in Mogadishu," Shabelle Media Network, April 21, 2011. Available:
Abdi Hajji Hussein, "7 slain, 13 hurt as fierce righting rocks restive Mogadishu," All Headline News, April 21, 2011. Available:
[7] "Shabaab Claims Killing 40 in Border Town," SITE Intel Group, April 21, 2011. Available at SITE.
[8] "Kenyan police warn of al Shabaab attacks over Easter," Reuters, April 21, 2011. Available:
[9] "Somalia: Ahlu Sunna seizes insecurity related suspects," Shabelle Media Network, April 22, 2011. Available:
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