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: Saleh’s son reportedly appoints cousin to head security detail; clashes kill seven Ansar al Sharia militants in Abyan; Hadi appoints officers to new military positions; AQAP announces release of captured soldiers; AQAP warns Britain against extraditing Abu Qutada; AQAP confirms commander’s death airstrike; AQAP shari’a official debates about the legitimacy of suicide bombing

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab attack in Mogadishu kills four people and injures nine others; TFG and AMISOM clash with al Shabaab in Mogadishu’s outskirts; 15 suspected al Shabaab militants arrested in Bakool region; South African Puntland Marine Police Force trainer reportedly shot and killed prior to conducting raids on pirate bases in Isku Shuban; al Shabaab’s military spokesman discusses Mogadishu strategy and al Shabaab publicizes food aid distribution in Middle Shabelle

Yemen Security Brief

  • Commander of Yemen’s Republican Guard Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son, appointed his cousin, Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, to head his father’s security detail. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi removed Tareq Mohammed from his position as commander of Yemen’s Presidential Guard and appointed him as commander of the 37th Armored Brigade on April 6. Tareq Mohammed allegedly refused to accept his new appointment.[1]
  • Seven Ansar al Sharia militants were killed by tribesmen in two separate incidents on the outskirts of Lawder on April 27. Ansar al Sharia claimed that it had captured 20 tanks from the Yemeni military in Lawder on April 29.[2]
  • President Hadi appointed several officers to new military posts, including new chiefs of staff for the Eastern Military Zone, the 25th Mechanized Brigade, and the 29th Brigade.[3]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced on April 29 that it released 73 soldiers it had captured on raids in early March. The decision followed three days of negotiations with tribal leaders and scholars in Jaar and came directly from AQAP leader Nasser al Wahayshi. There was a ceremony to mark the soldiers’ release, which was attended by senior AQAP leaders including military commander Qasim al Raymi. An AQAP statement told the released soldiers that they had been mere “tools” in the hands of the “Zio-Crusaders” and reassured AQAP members in Yemeni prisons that they were not forgotten.[4]
  • AQAP warned Britain against extraditing Abu Qutada al Filistini, a Palestinian militant with alleged links to al Qaeda, to Jordan in an April 29 statement posted on jihadist forums. The statement read: “[I]f it goes ahead with this step, it, its citizens and its interests around the world will bear the consequences.”[5]
  • AQAP confirmed the death of a commander, Mohammed Said al Umdah, who had been killed in an April 22 airstrike in Ma’rib governorate in an April 29 communiqué posted on jihadist forums. In its statement, AQAP said,” We give condolences to the Islamic Ummah for the loss of one of its steadfast knights and brave heroes, and at the same time, we remind the Americans that their crimes will not pass in vain and the record of revenge is long.”[6]
  • Sheikh Abu Zubair Adil al Abab, AQAP’s shari’a official, posted a response to another scholar, Abu Baseer al Tartusi, on jihadist forums on April 13. Tartusi had condemned the use of suicide bombings and of fighting against soldiers who supported the Yemeni revolution. Abab countered that the use of suicide bombings was legitimate and tactically sound, and furthermore that if soldiers were in support of the revolution, they should have left the service.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Eyewitnesses reported that a grenade attack near Tarabunka square in Mogadishu’s Hodan district killed four civilians and injured nine others on April 28. The victims were gathered in a movie theater. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.[8]
  • Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops, backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers, reportedly clashed with al Shabaab militants in Dharkenley district’s Hoosh and Asluubta villages in Mogadishu on April 28. Locals reported that AMISOM forces used tanks and heavy artillery. Two militants were allegedly killed. TFG Commander Abdullah Osman stated that the clashes followed an al Shabaab attack on AMISOM bases south of Mogadishu near KM-13.[9]
  • TFG district commissioner in Hudur in Bakool region Mohamed Moalim reported that 15 suspected militants with ties to al Shabaab were arrested on April 29 after receiving credible information that they were planning an attack.[10]
  • A South African working for Saracen International, a foreign security firm that assists in training the Puntland Marine Police Force, was reportedly killed following a quarrel with a Somali soldier in Isku Shuban on April 27. A source reported that the Puntland Marine Police Force was set to raid pirate bases in the region.[11]
  • Al Shabaab’s media wing, al Kata’ib Media Foundation, released an interview with al Shabaab military spokesman, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus’ab, along with three other communiqués claiming attacks and detailing community service projects on jihadist forums on April 27. In the interview, Abu Mus’ab discusses al Shabaab’s success in Mogadishu and highlights battles in Daynile district. Al Shabaab also claimed two grenade attacks in Mogadishu and the distribution of food aid to over 200 handicapped residents near Bu’aale in Middle Shabelle region.[12]        

[1] “Yemen President Challenged by Ex-President’s Son,” AP, April 29, 2012. Available:
For further information, see Sasha Gordon’s “Yemen’s Military Shake-Up: Weakening Ousted Saleh’s Network,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, April 12, 2012. Available:
[3] “President of the Republic Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Issues Decrees,” SABA News, April 30, 2012. Available:
[4] “AQAP Leader Orders Release of 73 Soldiers in Abyan,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 30, 2012. Available at SITE.
“Al-Qaeda in Yemen Says it Freed Captured Soldiers,” AP, April 29, 2012. Available:
[5] “AQAP Warns Britain Against Extraditing Abu Qutada,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 29, 2012. Available at SITE.
[6] “AQAP Confirms Death of Commander Muhammad Saeed al-‘Umdah,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 29, 2012. Available at SITE.
[7] “AQAP Shariah Official Responds to Criticism from Tartusi,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 27, 2012. Available at SITE.
[8] “Four Killed in a Grenade Attack near Tarabuka Square in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, April 29, 2012. Available:
[9] “Government Forces Clash with Al Shabab in Mogadishu,” Jowhar Online, April 29, 2012. Available:
[10] “15 Suspected Militants Arrested in Bakol Region,” Bar Kulan, April 29, 2012. Available:
[11] Feisal Omar, “S.African Security Officer Killed in Somalia – Local Govt,” Reuters, April 29, 2012. Available:
“South African Mentor Killed in Puntland,” Bar Kulan, April 28, 2012. Available:
[12] “Shabaab Military Spokesman Comments on Mogadishu Strategy,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 27, 2012. Available at SITE.
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