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: AQAP claims to expand its control over Rada’a district, al Bayda governorate; ISIS claims attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda and assassination attempt on security officer in Aden; AQAP releases latest issue of al Masra newspaper; reported U.S. airstrike kills AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate; Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General commends al Houthi leader; al Houthi-Saleh forces claim to launch a ballistic missile at Hadi government forces in al Jawf governorate; al Houthis ranked second leading abductors of journalists in the world

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants conduct SVBIED and IED attacks in Mogadishu; KDF claims to kill four al Shabaab militants in Hulugho, Garissa County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed to expand its control over the Hama al Hassam area in Rada’a district, northwestern al Bayda governorate following an ambush that killed three al Houthi-Saleh fighters on December 15. AQAP seized a strategic mountain in al Bayda from al Houthi-Saleh forces on December 12.[1]
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat al Bayda claimed to intensify attacks on al Houthi-Saleh forces near Qifa village, western al Bayda governorate, on December 11. ISIS disseminated images of its forces firing mortars, vehicle-mounted artillery, and rockets at al Houthi-Saleh forces along with the claim. ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan released images of an attempted assassination of a popular resistance officer in al Mansoura district, Aden city, on December 13. Yemeni officials claimed security forces arrested members of an ISIS assassination cell in Aden on December 6.[2]
  • AQAP released the 33rd issue of its al Masra newspaper on December 13. The newspaper featured an article on Iran’s geopolitical supremacy over Saudi Arabia, citing the Economist. The newspaper continues to monitor U.S. domestic politics. It reported on President-Elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of State appointment and alleged business ties to Saudi Arabia. The newspaper also promoted AQAP’s operations against al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen, and provided updates on various al Qaeda affiliates.[3]
  • A reported U.S. airstrike killed four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in a convoy in Ma’rib governorate on December 14. The vehicle was traveling on a major road that runs from Ma’rib to al Jawf governorate. A reported U.S. airstrike targeted AQAP militants in Wadi Obeida, Ma’rib governorate on December 2.[4]
  • Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem commended the efforts of al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi and al Houthi forces in Yemen on December 14. Qassem stressed that the war in Yemen was a Saudi initiative to prevent Yemeni citizens from their right to sovereignty. Al Houthi leaders have previously met with Hezbollah officials in Lebanon, and Hezbollah commanders have reportedly trained to al Houthi fighters in Yemen.[5]
  • The al Houthi-Saleh alliance continues to compete with Hadi government and allied forces for control of al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen. Al Houthi-Saleh forces claimed to launch a Zilzal-3 ballistic missile targeting forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in al Jawf governorate on December 15. Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck al Masloub district, southwestern al Jawf on December 15, according to al Houthi news outlets.[6]
  • Reporters Without Borders ranked al Houthis as the second largest abductor of journalists in the world, after ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The report states the al Houthis are currently detaining 15 Yemeni journalists and media contributors. Al Houthis fighters abducted Yemeni journalist Youssef Ajlane in Sana’a on October 13.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) at the Village restaurant in Mogadishu on December 15. The blast targeted senior Somali police officer Colonel Mohamed Dahir, who was injured in the attack. The blast killed at least one individual and wounded four others. Suspected al Shabaab militants also remotely detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) at a checkpoint outside of Mogadishu on December 15, killing five individuals.[8]
  • Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers claimed to kill four al Shabaab militants in Hulugho in Garissa County, Kenya on December 15. The militants fired on a patrol of KDF soldiers. Al Shabaab militants destroyed telecommunications equipment and lectured to local civilians in Hulugho on November 22 and 23.[9]
[1] AQAP claims attack on al Houthis in Rada’a district, al Bayda, Telegram, December 15, 2016.
[2] ISIS claims attacks on al Houthi forces in Qifa, al Bayda, on ISIS-affiliated blog, Dawaal Haq, December 11, 2016; “Officer in the security zone escapes assassination attempt in al Mansoura, Aden,” Aden Times, December 13, 2016,;  and “Daesh adopts the assassination of a member of the resistance inside a barber shop in Aden and published photographs of the process (pictures),” Yemen Press, December 14, 2016,
[3] “New issue of An??r al-Shar?’ah in the Arabian Peninsula’s newspaper: “al-Masr? #33″,” Jihadology, December 13, 2016,
[4] “The killing of four members of al Qaeda in a U.S. raid in eastern Ma’rib governorate,” al Masdar, December 14, 2016,
[5] “Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah: The Yemeni initiative prevented Saudi Arabia’s silencing of the Yemenis and maintained its independence,” al Masirah, December 14, 2016,
[6] "Earthquake -3 ballistic hits mercenaries rallies in al Jawf Junction,” Al Masirah, December 15, 2016,; and “Injured citizen following the air raid aggression on al Jawf,” al Masirah, December 15, 2016,
[7] “2016 Round-Up: Number of journalists detained worldwide continues to rise,” Reporters Without Borders, December 9, 2016,
[8] “One killed, Four injured in Mogadishu car bomb blast,” Shabelle News, December 15, 2016,; “Five People Injured in Car Bomb in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, December 15, 2016,; “BREAKING: Car bomb hits restaurant in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, December 15, 2016,; and “5 killed in Blast at security checkpoint in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, December 15, 2016,
[9] “Four Al Shabaab militants killed in Garissa, Kenya,” Shabelle News, December 15, 2016,  
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