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: Suspected AQAP militants escape from Aden prison; 11 al Qaeda-linked militants killed in Abyan; unidentified gunmen attack oil pipeline in Shabwah; national unity government sworn in; security forces disrupt Southern Secessionist Movement protests in Aden; AQAP releases third audio lecture in martyrdom series

 Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases a statement announcing that it does not recognize the UN; al Shabaab releases the names of ten Burundian soldiers killed in Daynile district in Mogadishu; second airstrike hits Bardhere in Gedo region; two bombs kill a policeman and wound 12 soldiers and policemen in northern Kenya; bomb wounds district intelligence chief during independence day parade in Wajir, Kenya; Puntland executes two men convicted of terrorism; al Shabaab gunmen kill man in Elasha Biyaha; al Shabaab seizes twenty trucks carrying food aid in Jowhar

Yemen Security Brief

  • Security officials reported that at least 10 suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants escaped from the Central Security prison in Aden. The prisoners were reportedly imprisoned for assassinating security officials and bank robbery. They escaped by digging a six meter tunnel through the western section of the prison that opened up near a petrol station beside the prison walls.[1]
  • An official reported that al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a military base killing 11 militants and two soldiers east of Zinjibar in Abyan governorate, overnight on December 9. Thirty-six soldiers were also reportedly injured in the attack.[2]
  • A tribal source reported that unidentified gunmen attacked an oil pipeline using rocket-propelled grenades in Aslan region in Shabwah governorate on December 9. The pipeline connects the oil pipelines in Ma’rib governorate to oil export facilities on the Red Sea. AQAP is suspected to be responsible for the attack, according to a local government official.[3]
  • Yemen’s new unity government was sworn in by Yemeni Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi in Sana’a on December 10. Hadi addressed the cabinet members saying, “Our main responsibility is taking the country out of the economic and security collapse and to improve the living and humanitarian conditions of the people.” Meanwhile, violence continued between Republican Guard troops and tribesmen loyal to Hashid tribal confederation leader Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar in al Hasaba district in north Sana’a, wounding at least one person on December 10. Also, clashes between government troops and opposition fighters killed one person in Sana’a on December 9, according to the Defense Ministry. Five explosions were heard in al Hasaba district and two people were reportedly injured, according to medics on December 11.[4]
  • Yemeni police and security forces disrupted a Southern Movement rally, injuring one demonstrator in al Oroud Square in Aden, according to demonstrators.  Southern Movement leader Nasser al Nuba reported that a Southern Movement delegation met with United Nations (UN) envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar demanding the “right of the people of south Yemen to self-determination.”[5]
  • AQAP’s media arm, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics) posted its third audio lecture in a series titled, “The Merits of Martyr and the Virtue of Martyrs,” on jihadist forums on December 7. The 12-minute audio featured a lecture given by an AQAP member named Sheikh Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, also known as Muhammad al Murshidi, in which he discusses the merits of martyrs in the “Barzakh” period, “the intermediate state of the soul between the mortal world and the hereafter.” Murshidi describes the six merits of martyrs in the “Barzakh” period; among them he cites that martyrs bodies do not decompose and that martyrs “are on the banks of a river at the Gates of Paradise.”[6]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab’s press office released a statement announcing that the group does not recognize the UN and would redouble its efforts to “counter the UN-sponsored terrorism that threatens the lives of millions of Somalis.” Al Shabaab also reiterated that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Kenyan forces in the country “have recently been bled dry militarily as well as economically by the mujahedeen.”[7]
  • In response to desires from their families, al Shabaab released the names of ten Burundian soldiers killed in recent fighting in Daynile district in Mogadishu. The families of the soldiers, citing a lack of response from the government, appealed directly to al Shabaab for verification. The ten soldiers were part of AMISOM.  Al Shabaab offered to verify other missing soldiers for families as well.[8]
  • An airstrike targeted al Shabaab positions in Bardhere in Gedo region, hitting a food aid distribution center and a school, both of which were empty. The airstrike destroyed the water tank at the distribution center and a male civilian was killed. Kenya claimed responsibility for the December 7 airstrike that targeted two al Shabaab bases and a checkpoint in Bardhere.[9]
  • Two separate bombs exploded in northern Kenya, killing a policeman and wounding 12 policemen and soldiers. The first attack occurred in Mandera where a roadside bomb exploded destroying a police vehicle, killing a police officer, and wounding three other policemen. The second occurred in Wajir, targeting an army convoy headed toward Mandera. Nine Kenyan soldiers were injured and taken to Wajir district hospital. Locals reported that residents began fleeing Mandera, fearing a security crackdown in response to the bombings.[10]
  • A bomb exploded as government vehicles were leaving a stadium in Wajir after participating in a parade celebrating 48 years of independence from British rule. The bomb injured the district intelligence chief, his driver, and four civilian onlookers.[11]
  • In a press conference, Puntland’s Attorney General Mohamud Hassan Aw’Osman said that two men were executed by firing squad for committing acts of terrorism. He said, “The two men were convicted of terrorism crimes and they both have confessed openly.” One of those executed, Abdullahi Abdulle Iman, was convicted of killing a policeman and an elder. The other, Osman Abdi Gabow, was convicted of killing five people in Boosaaso, including two policemen.[12]
  • Two al Shabaab gunmen ambushed and killed a man in Elasha Biyaha outside of Mogadishu. Locals reported that the man was suspected of “flouting rules and regulations” that al Shabaab had set.[13]
  • Al Shabaab militants seized twenty trucks carrying rice as food aid in Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region. The trucks were meant to go to people living in areas held by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a in central Somalia, but al Shabaab claimed that they were going to Ahlu Sunna fighters.[14] 

[1]Hakim al Masmari, “Officials: 15 suspected al Qaeda members escape from Yemeni prison,” CNN, December 12, 2011. Available:
“At Least 10 Al-Qaeda Militants Escape in Yemen Prison Break,” AP, December 12, 2011. Available:
[2] “13 killed in Yemen,” AP, December 10, 2011. Available:
Mohammed Ghobari and Gwladys Fouche, “New Yemen cabinet meets; Nobel winner says Saleh wants war,” Reuters, December 10, 2011. Available:
[3] “Gunmen Blow up Oil Pipeline in Southeast Yemen,” Xinhua, December 10, 2011. Available:
[4] “Mohammed Ghobari and Gwladys Fouche, “New Yemen cabinet meets; Nobel winner says Saleh wants war,” Reuters, December 10, 2011. Available:
“GCC committed to helping Yemen restore security, stability,” SABA News Agency, December 10, 2011. Available:
Ahmed al Haj, “Demonstrations in Yemen demand trial for president,” AP, December 11, 2011. Available:
[5] “Yemen police disperse separatist protest,” AFP, December 12, 2011. Available:
[6] “AQAP Member Promotes Martyrdom in Third Episode of Audio Series,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 9, 2011. Available at SITE.
[7] “Shabaab Criticizes UN, Pledges to ‘Multiply Efforts’ Against AMISOM,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 10, 2011. Available at SITE.
[8] “SOMALIA: Al-Shabab releases photos, IDs of deceased Burundian forces,” Raxanreeb Radio, December 12, 2011. Available:
[9] Mohamed Ahmed and Feisal Omar, “Air strike hits empty Somalia Red Crescent centre,” Reuters, December 10, 2011. Available:
“Red Crescent nutritional centre hit by air strike,” ICRC Press Release, December 12, 2011. Available:
[10] Stephen Astariko, “AP killed in Mandera Shabaab mine attack,” The Star, December 12, 2011. Available:
[11] “Blast wounds 6, including district intelligence chief, during Kenya Independence Day parade,” AP, December 12, 2011. Available:
[12] “Somalia: Puntland executes two Al Shabaab convicted terrorists,” Garowe Online, December 11, 2011. Available:
[13] “Al-shabab kills a civilian in Elasha Biyaha,” SONNA, December 11, 2011. Available:
[14] “Shabaab seize 20 trucks in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle,” Shabelle Media Network, December 12, 2011. Available:
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