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 Houthi-Saleh forces launch rocket at coalition military camp in Dhubab, Taiz governorate; AQAP releases video of former Guantanamo detainee; al Houthi forces claim to launch missiles into Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrikes in Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: SNA and AMISOM forces recapture village from pro-ISIS militants in Tulo-Barwaqo, Lower Jubba region;  al Shabaab militants ambush KDF forces in Mandera County, Kenya; pro-ISIS religious leader in Somalia releases audio log condemning al Shabaab’s attacks against pro-ISIS defectors; rival clans clash near Beledweyne, Hiraan region; unidentified gunmen in boats allegedly attack airport in Mogadishu, Banadir region

Yemen Security Brief

  • An al Houthi-Saleh rocket strike on a coalition military camp killed dozens of Sudanese, Yemeni, Emirati, and Saudi soldiers, including two high-ranking officers, in Dhubab district in southwestern Taiz governorate on December 14. One of the officers was the commander of Saudi Special Forces in Yemen. The attack also destroyed Saudi military equipment, including at least one Apache helicopter. This rocket strike is the deadliest attack on coalition troops since September.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released an audio statement on December 12 by former Guantanamo detainee Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi calling for unity amongst jihadi groups in Yemen and praising the merger between al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Murabitoun. AQAP released a video featuring al Qosi last week, marking his first appearance in any media since his release from Guantanamo in 2012.[2]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch missiles from northern Yemen toward King Khaled Airbase and Jazan Regional Airport in Saudi Arabia on December 13 and 14. These reports are likely untrue because the al Houthis lack an arsenal capable of hitting targets from such a distance. No residents have confirmed the attacks.[3]
  • Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed 19 civilians and wounded nearly 30 others on December 13 in al Hajawara and Qabatiya in Hajjah governorate in northern Yemen. The intended targets are unknown.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army (SNA) and Interim Jubbaland Administration (IJA) forces recaptured the Lower Jubba region’s Tulo-Barwaqo village on December 13. The village was under the control of pro-Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants, who captured it nearly a week ago. The militants reportedly fled when government forces arrived, allowing them to retake the village without conflict.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) vehicle on December 13 in Mandera County, Kenya. The vehicle was traveling between Elwak and Lafey towns when it was attacked. The militants killed at least one soldier and wounded two others before they fled the scene and crossed back into Somalia. Al Shabaab claimed to have killed four soldiers and destroyed one vehicle in the attack.[6]
  • Abdul Qadir Mumin, a pro-ISIS religious leader from a militant cell operating in the Bari region’s Galgala hills, released an audio log on December 12 denouncing al Shabaab’s anti-ISIS activities. Mumin condemned al Shabaab’s attacks against pro-ISIS defectors and stated that the group was harming the unity of all Muslims. Mumin also called for militants to abandon al Shabaab and join ISIS.[7]
  • Clashes between unspecified clan militias began on December 11 in Beledweyne, Hiraan region. Suspected clan militiamen initially attacked a market on December 11, killing an SNA soldier and a civilian. Rival clans reportedly retaliated on December 13 by attacking a nearby village, killing at least eight people, including another SNA soldier. The clashes are ongoing.[8]
  • Unidentified gunmen in motor boats allegedly attempted to attack Mogadishu’s Aden Ade Airport on December 13 in the Banadir region. Witnesses reported that African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces successfully repulsed the nighttime attack. An AMISOM spokesperson later said that the defending forces merely fired warning shots at fishermen whose vessels came too close to the airport.[9]

[1] “Yemen conflict: Gulf commanders ‘killed in missile strike,’” BBC, December 14, 2015. Available:
“Two top Gulf commanders killed in Yemen rocket strike-sources,” Reuters, December 14, 2015. Available:
“Yemen mourns the commander of Saudi forces in Yemen and officer Ketbi from the UAE,” Al Masdar, December 14, 2015. Available:
[2] “AQAP official, ex-Gitmo detainee calls for unity, congratulates AQIM and al Murabitoon for merger,” SITE Intelligence group, December 14, 2015. Source available upon request.
[3] Twitter, Mohammed Basha, December 13, 2015. Available:
Twitter, Mohammed Basha, December 13, 2015. Available:
[4] “Saudi-led airstrikes kill 19 Yemeni civilians: residents,” Reuters, December 13, 2015. Available:
[5] “Jubbaland Forces recapture Tulo-Barwaqo,” Goobjoog News, December 12, 2015. Available:
Fred Lambert, “Somali forces recapture village from IS-affiliated al-Shabab breakaway group,” United Press International, December 13, 2015. Available:
[6] “KDF soldier killed in ambush in Mandera,” The Nation, December 14, 2015. Available:
Live From Mogadishu, Twitter, December 13, 2015. Available:
[8] “Somalia: Armed clan feud in Beledweyne kills 8, injures 20 – UPDATED,” Shabelle News, December 13, 2015. Available:
 “Two die as gunmen attack market in Baladweyne,” Goobjoog News, December 12, 2015. Available: 
[9] “Somalia: Mogadishu airport comes under seaborne fire,” Shabelle News, December 14, 2015. Available:
“AMISOM repulses armed group who fired at Aden Adde airport in night raid,” Wacaal Media, December 14, 2015. Available:
“AMISOM refutes attack on Adan Adde Airport last night,” Goobjoog News, December 14, 2015. Available:
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