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 Houthis seize Arhab district in greater Sana’a; Yemeni security kills 3 suspected AQAP militants attempting to cross border into Saudi Arabia; Anar al Sharia assassinates GPC leader in Ma’rib; al Houthis for al Hudaydah governor to resign

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush SNA and AMISOM military base in Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab beheads victims in Hiraan and Bay regions; Somali security forces arrest al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu and Middle Shabelle region

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Houthi militants seized the Arhab district, located within greater Sana’a, on December 13 and took control of homes belonging to prominent al Islah (Reform) party leaders. Militants also blew up the headquarters of the al Islah party in Arhab and stormed the house of Abdul Majid al Zindani, a U.S. designated terrorist wanted for his ties to al Qaeda. The al Houthis reportedly carried out the seizure of Arhab in cooperation with former Republican Guard units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Ansar al Sharia also claimed to have sent fighters to confront the al Houthis in Arhab.[1]
  • Yemeni security officials killed 3 suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants and arrested one other while the group attempted to cross the border into Saudi Arabia in Harad, northern Hajja on December 13. Two of the militants were reportedly dressed as women.[2]
  • Ansar al Sharia militants detonated a car bomb targeting a local leader of the General People’s Congress (GPC) in Majzar, northern Ma’rib on December 14. Ansar al Sharia later claimed credit for the attack, stating the victim was an al Houthi leader.[3]
  • Al Houthi militants forced the governor of al Hudaydah to resign and replaced him with an al Houthi-loyal governor Hassan Haij on December 14. A 15-member council of al Hudaydah issued a vote of no confidence in the governor, reportedly at the behest of al Houthis. The al Houthis currently remain in control of al Hudaydah port.[4] 

Horn of Africa

  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military base in Lower Shabelle region on December 15, killing at least ten soldiers and destroying two military vehicles. The exact location of the attack was not given. Al Shabaab military spokesman Sheik Abdi Aziz Abu Musab claimed the group’s responsibility for the attack.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants beheaded two soldiers near Bur Hakaba, Bay region on December 13. Separately, militants abducted and beheaded a teacher in Qandho near Bulo-burde, Hiraan region on December 13. The teacher was killed for allegedly disobeying an al Shabaab order to evacuate the town.[6]
  • Somali security forces reportedly arrested a large number of al Shabaab militants in the Hamar Weyne district of Mogadishu on December 15. Somali security forces also conducted an operation targeting al Shabaab militants in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region on December 15, arresting an unknown number of militants.[7]

“Yemen’s Houthis blow up Islamist party office in Sana’a,” Middle East Monitor, December 14, 2014. Available:
“Houthis expand territory in Yemeni capital,” al Arabiya, December 14, 2014. Available:
“Yemen’s Houthis claim gains in Arhab,” al Jazeera, December 14, 2014. Available:
AQAP Twitter Account, December 13, 2014.
[2] “3 militants killed and fourth injured after being caught in Harad, including two dressed as women,” 26 September, December 13, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
“Yemen kills ‘al-Qaeda militants disguised as veiled women,” BBC, December 13, 2014. Available:
[3] “President of local council of Majzar in Ma’rib killed along with two others in car bomb,” December 15, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
AQAP Twitter Account, December 14, 2014.
[5] “Islamist rebels kill 10 Somali soldiers in attack on base,” Retuers, December 15, 2014. Available:
[6] Omar Nor, “Al-Shabaab blamed for five beheadings,” CNN, December 15, 2014. Available:
[7] “Over 200 arrested in Mogadishu security operation,” Bar Kulan, December 15, 2014. Available:
“Security Forces Carry Out Operations in Jowhar,” Dalsan Radio, December 15, 2014. Available:
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