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: Pro-government tribesmen clash with AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate; Brig. Gen. Saleh refuses request from President Hadi to surrender Scud missiles; tribal clashes kill at least ten tribesmen in Shabwah governorate; PRC forces seize a Republican Guards water tanker in south Yemen; residents from Ma’rib governorate protest in front of Yemeni cabinet building in Sana’a; tribesmen loyal to the Southern Movement block northerners from entering Shabwah governorate; security forces locate and disarm explosive device inside security administration building in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab leader speaks on events from 2012; Kenya’s MYC reiterates it support to al Shabaab in Somalia; Chicago man given ten years in prison for attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab; Kenyan police arrest six suspected al Shabaab militants in Garissa, Kenya; Somali troops conduct searches in Garbaharey, Gedo region; Djiboutian delegation arrives in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni pro-government tribesmen clashed with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Wadi Abeidah region of Ma’rib governorate on December 12. Local sources reported that three AQAP militants and one tribesman were killed in the clashes. Yemeni military forces have reportedly killed at least seven al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Wadi Abeidah region of Ma’rib governorate since the launch of an offensive campaign on December 9. The campaign was sparked after AQAP militants ambushed a military convoy to Ma’rib governorate, killing several senior officers and soldiers.[1]
  • Reuters reported on December 11 that Republican Guards commander Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ali Saleh refused orders from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to turn over long-range Scud missiles that Republican Guards have in possession. Local sources added that the refusal by Brig. Gen. Saleh, son of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has caused a crisis between the two sides. President Hadi and military officials briefed U.S. CENTCOM commander James Mattis of the issue during a meeting in Sana’a on December 10.[2]
  • Violent tribal clashes killed at least ten tribesmen and wounded several more in Shabwah governorate on December 12. Local sources reported that tribesmen from the al Marada’a and al Qaramish tribes clashed in Ayadh region. The clashes were sparked over a dispute regarding the protection of oil pipelines in Shabwah governorate. The Yemeni government compensates tribesmen in Ma’rib and Shabwah governorates to protect key oil industry infrastructure.[3]
  • Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) forces seized a water tanker at al Mahathith checkpoint on a main road connecting Aden and Hadramawt governorates in Abyan governorate on December 12. Local sources reported that water tanker belonged to the Yemeni Republican Guards. The PRC forces seized the water tanker in protest of what they called abusive treatment by Republican Guards leadership that operate al Mahathith checkpoint.[4]
  • Residents from Ma’rib governorate protested in front of Yemeni cabinet’s building in Sana’a on December 11. Local sources reported that the citizens protested against a campaign launched by the Yemeni military on December 9 to remove al Qaeda militants from Ma’rib governorate.[5]
  • Tribesmen loyal to the Southern Mobility Movement (SMM) set up several roadblocks in Shabwah governorate on December 11. Local sources reported that three new roadblocks were set up on a main road connecting Shabwah and Ma’rib governorates. The tribesmen searched cars in an attempt to block northern Yemenis from entering the governorate.[6]
  • Security forces found an explosive device inside a security administration building in Sana’a on December 11. Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams successfully disarmed the explosive device and closed the building further inspection.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab’s media branch al Kata’ib Foundation, posted an audio message on December 11 from al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubair, also known as Godane, talking about events that have occurred in the last year.  He praised all the bad things that befell America in 2012, such as Hurricane Sandy and the financial crisis. He also praised jihadist fighters in North Africa, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and fighters in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Zubair additionally said that al Shabaab will defeat the AMISOM contingent in Somalia.[8]
  • The Muslim Youth Center (MYC), based out of Kenya, said that while it is supporting jihadist efforts in Kenya and East Africa, its main focus remains winning in Somalia. A spokesperson from MYC said that the fight in other parts of Africa is actually an extension of the jihad in Somalia.[9]
  • A U.S. citizen living in Chicago, who was convicted of attempting to supply material support to the Somali terrorist organization al Shabaab, was sentenced to ten years in jail on December 11. Shaker Masri had hoped to travel to Somalia and take up fighting for al Shabaab, but was arrested in August 2010, the day he planned to board a plane to Somalia. Masri was additionally charged for conspiring to detonate a suicide vest on a bus of American soldiers, but under the plea agreement, those charges were dropped. Masri will spend just under ten years in prison and will be closely monitored for twenty years after he is released.[10]
  • Kenyan police arrested six suspected al Shabaab militants outside Garissa, Kenya on December 11. The suspects were driving in a car toward Garissa when the Kenyan police flagged the vehicle to stop. When the car continued moving, police had to incapacitate it. Inside the car were two pistols, two grenades and ammunition. Four people were able to flee the vehicle while it was moving and have not yet been caught. Police had been forewarned of a possible terrorist attack taking place during the December 12 holiday festivities.[11]
  • Somali forces conducted searches in Garbaharey, Gedo region on December 12. Somali troops captured around ten suspected al Shabaab militants. The searches started after the Somali forces received a tip saying al Shabaab fighters were planning on sneaking in to the town.[12]
  • A Djiboutian delegation led by Speaker of Parliament Idiris Ali arrived in Mogadishu on December 12. Ali was greeted by the Somali Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari. The two men and their delegations will be meeting throughout the day.[13]   

[1] “Yemeni Offensive on Qaeda Kills 24: Military Official,” AFP, December 11, 2012. Available:
“Three Militants and a Tribesman Killed in Yemen Clashes,” Reuters, December 12, 2012. Available:
[2] “Yemeni President in Standoff with Saleh Son over Scud Missiles,” Reuters, December 11, 2012. Available:
[3] “Breaking: Ten People Killed in Tribal Confrontations in Shabwah Because of a Dispute over Protecting Gas Pipeline,” Aden al Ghad, December 12, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Supporters of Popular Committees at al Mahathith Seize a Water Tanker Belonging to the Republican Guards,” Aden al Ghad, December 12, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “In Front of the Government’s Headquarters… Activists from Ma’rib Governorate Condemn Shelling on Innocent Civilians and Condemn Terrorist Sabotage,” Mareb Press, December 11, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Tribes in Shabwah Prohibit Northerners from the Governorate,” Barakish, December 12, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Discovery of IED in Security Building in Sana’a,” Barakish, December 12, 2012 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Shabaab Leader Speaks on Events in US, Somalia and Muslim World,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 11, 2012. Available at SITE.
[9] “MYC Focuses on Kenya and East Africa, Declares Commitment to Somalia,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 11, 2012. Available at SITE.
[10] “Chicago Man Sentenced for Trying to Aid Somali Terrorists,” December 11, 2012. Available:
“Chicago Man Sentenced to Nearly 10 Years in Prison on Suicide Bomber Plot,” Washington Post, December 12, 2012. Available:
[11] “Kenya Security Forces Arrest 6, Thwart Terrorist Attack in Garissa,” Sabahi, December 11, 2012. Available:
“Kenya Police Arrest 6 Terror Suspects,” Bar Kulan, December 12, 2012. Available:
[12] “Several Arrested in Garbaharey Swoop,” Bar Kulan, December 12, 2012. Available:
[13] “Djiboutian Speaker of Parliament arrives in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, December 12, 2012. Available:
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