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-linked militants attack military patrol in Abyan; Yemeni security forces capture six AQAP operatives; clashes continue in Sana’a; AQAP official declares war on al Houthis in Damaj; Saudi Arabia pledges oil aid to Yemen

Horn of Africa: U.S. defense secretary discusses terrorism in East Africa in Djibouti; al Shabaab issues eulogy for al Qaeda’s second-in-command; heavy fighting flares in Taabta in Lower Jubba region between al Shabaab and TFG; al Shabaab amputates hands of two boys in Alamada area in Lower Shabelle region  

Yemen Security Brief  

  • Al Qaeda-linked gunmen attacked a military patrol on December 11. Three soldiers were killed and at least 11 others were wounded in the attack, which occurred east of Zinjibar in Abyan. The militants used “automatic rifles and shoulder-held rocket launchers,” according to a local army official.[1]  
  • Yemeni security forces arrested six “well-known” al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen; among the operatives was high-value target and Emir of AQAP in al Jawf governorate, Musaed al Barbari. A stockpile of weapons and “training manuals” were found in his possession. The suspects, including Barbari, Mohamed Hussein Musayyib, Mohammad Abdulkadir Ahmed al Shihri, Nader Ahmad Mohamed al Qubati, Mohamed Muthana Ali al Amari, and Abdul Munaim Hamid Ali Abu Ghanem, had been planning attacks targeting high-ranking security officials, foreign embassies, and government buildings in Yemen. Also, the suspects had been “actively recruiting fighters” to join Ansar al Sharia militants fighting in Abyan and Shabwah governorates. Separately, three fugitives who escaped from al Mansoura Central Security prison in Aden on December 11, were captured. Yemen’s Ministry of Interior officially denied that the fugitives who escaped from al Mansoura prison were AQAP operatives, and confirmed instead that they were imprisoned for other crimes.[2]  
  • Clashes continued between government troops and opposition tribesmen loyal to Hashid tribal confederation leader Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar in al Hasaba district in north Sana’a on December 12. A security official accused opposition tribesmen of attacking a police patrol that was guarding the Ministry of Trade in al Hasaba district and wounding two policemen by gunfire. The General People’s Congress (GPC) issued a statement accusing Ahmar-loyalists of attempting to disrupt the implementation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative; however, Ahmar-loyalists refuted this claim saying that government troops attacked them first. In Taiz, witnesses reported that clashes resumed between Republican Guard troops and opposition tribesmen and that several explosions were heard.[3]  
  • AQAP’s media arm, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics) released a speech titled, “Support Our Brothers in Damaj,” on jihadist forums on December 11. The 19-minute, 25-second audio speech given by Ibrahim al Rubaish declared jihad on the al Houthis for their aggression against and siege on the Salafists in Damaj in Sa’ada governorate. Rubaish said that it is an obligation of every “able” Sunni man to embark on jihad against the al Houthis and chastised those who have “abandoned” this obligation. Rubaish added that “Supporting the oppressed among the faithful is one of the duties that it is a sin to abandon, and letting them down is a great fault and its perpetrator is promised punishment in this world and in the hereafter.” He called the al Houthis a “virus” that must be treated like cancer; the only way to stop its spreading is by “amputating” it.[4]  
  • Saudi Arabia pledged to provide Yemen’s new unity government with aid, particularly oil products, in support of Yemen’s progress towards “security and stability.” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal informed Yemeni Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi via telephone of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz’s decision to " provide all the urgent needs of Yemen, especially petroleum products,” on December 12.[5]  

Horn of Africa Security Brief  

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta met with Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh on counter-terrorism, counter-piracy, and humanitarian issues. He also spoke to U.S. troops stationed at Camp Lemonier. Panetta said, “It's fair to say that the United States is intent on going after al-Qaida wherever they locate, and making sure they have no place to hide.” He also noted that al Qaeda and its affiliates remain dangerous.[6]  
  • Al Shabaab’s General Command released a eulogy for al Qaeda’s second-in-command Attiya Allah, also known as Jamal Ibrahim Ashtiwi al Misrati, who was killed in an August 23 drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan. The statement said, “The enemies of Allah in the east and the west should know that the martyrdom of our brothers is just a fuel for a war that will destroy everything until Allah’s Shariah is instituted and glory returns to the Islamic Ummah.” Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri announced Attiya Allah’s death in an audio speech released on December 1.[7]  
  • Heavy fighting erupted in Taabta village in Lower Jubba region between al Shabaab militants and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, backed by Kenyan troops. At least ten al Shabaab militants were taken to medical facilities in Kismayo for treatment for wounds sustained during the battle.[8]  
  • Al Shabaab militants amputated the hands of two boys for theft in Alamada area in Lower Shabelle region. Abdi Mohamed Abdulahi was convicted of robbery in Lafole village and Farah Abdi Yusuf was convicted of stealing a purse.[9]  

[1] “Three Yemeni soldiers killed in attack by al-Qaida militants,” Xinhua, December 13, 2011. Available:
“Qaeda attack kills three Yemeni soldiers,” AFP, December 13, 2011. Available:
[2] Saeed al Batati, “Six alleged Al Qaida militants arrested in Yemen,” Gulf News, December 13, 2011. Available:
“AQAP Operatives Captured,” Embassy of the Republic of Yemen Press Release, December 13, 2011.
[3]“Two policemen injured in clashes in Yemen's capital, fighting resumes in Taiz,” Xinhua, December 13, 2011. Available:
[4] “AQAP Official Declares War on Houthis, Urges Support to Damaj,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 12, 2011. Available at SITE.
“Vice President receives phone call from Saudi official,” SABA News Agency, December 12, 2011 Available:
[6] Lolita Baldor, “Panetta: Djibouti critical to US terror fight,” AP, December 13, 2011. Available:
“US Defence Chief Visits Djibouti for Terror Talks,” AFP, December 13, 2011. Available:
[7] “Shabaab’s General Command Gives Eulogy for Attiya Allah,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 12, 2011. Available at SITE.
“Zawahiri Announces Death of Attiya Allah, Kidnapping of American,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 1, 2011. Available at SITE.
[8] “Fighting between Somali, Kenya forces, Shabab fighters take place in the South,” Mareeg Online, December 13, 2011. Available:
[9] “Somalia: Shabab sentences 2 youths to have right hands cut,” Mareeg Online, December 12, 2011. Available:
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