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: Quso alive; U.S. adds indictments against Abdulmutallab; U.S. personnel attacked in Sana’a; southern leader still in prison; opposition leader attacked

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab describes raid on AMISOM base in Mogadishu, execution of soldier; TFG soldiers graduated from training in Uganda; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fights al Shabaab in Mogadishu; Hizb al Islam reportedly adopts defensive strategy against al Shabaab

Yemen Security Brief

  • Asharq al Awsat’s Arafat Mudabish met with AQAP commander Fahd al Quso in Shabwah governorate in Yemen for an interview.  Quso had been reported to have been killed in Pakistan earlier this fall.[1]

  • U.S. federal prosecutors allege that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas day bomber, did not act alone and have charged him with conspiracy to commit terrorism.  The indictment reveals that Abdulmutallab went to Yemen in August 2009, where he practiced detonating explosive devices like the one he would later use to attempt to bring down Detroit-bound Northwest Airline Flight 253.[2]

  • Reports say that four U.S. embassy personnel in Sana’a were attacked at a restaurant often frequented by foreign nationals.  Their armored Toyota Hilux exploded while they were in the restaurant, likely from an explosive placed in or underneath the truck.  The Yemeni police reportedly arrested a Jordanian suspect believed to be an al Qaeda member.  A senior Interior Ministry source denies that al Qaeda targeted the Americans.[3]

  • Fawaz Baoum, the son of Hassan Baoum, the head of the supreme council of the Southern Movement, reported that he and his father are still being detained.  Last Friday, a security official and Fadi Baoum, another son, had confirmed their release.  Fawaz reports that they are now being held in a prison in central Yemen and were permitted outside contact.  His father refused to sign a commitment to Yemeni unity.[4]

  • Sultan al Atwani, the leader of an opposition party in Yemen, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), was attacked last night by armed men in Hadda district of Sana’a.  The opposition had threatened to boycott parliamentary elections in April 2011 due to the new electoral amendments.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab released two separate communiqués on jihadist forums on December 13, 2010.  The first statement describes al Shabaab’s raid on the AMISOM base along Makka al Mukarama Street.  Al Shabaab reports that its militants were able to enter the base, which the Ugandan peacekeepers had abandoned, and seize ammunitions.  Reportedly, eight peacekeepers were killed and sixteen severely wounded, five of whom later died.  Al Shabaab claims to remain in control of the captured base.  The second statement describes the execution by firing squad of a man who had fought against al Shabaab.  The sentence was carried out in Elbur city, the capital of Galgudud.[6]

  • TFG soldiers trained by Uganda Peoples Defences Forces (UPDF) officers and senior EU officers graduated from the Bihanga military training school in western Uganda.  Of the 907 TFG soldiers, 21 were trained to be officers and 170 were trained as non-commissioned officers.  The soldiers will return to fight for the TFG in Somalia.  They are the first graduates of the Bihanga Training School, which was established this year to train TFG officers and soldiers.[7]

  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a fighters clashed with al Shabaab militants in Hodan district in Mogadishu, especially in Siigaale and Taleeh neighborhoods.  Omar Mo’allim Nur, the commander of the Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militia for the Banadir region, reported that his fighters had killed a number of al Shabaab militants.  Reports say that at least ten people were killed in the latest round of fighting and that AMISOM peacekeepers supported TFG and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a’s forces.[8]

  • Africa Review reports that on December 14, Hizb al Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, his militia commander Abdulkadir Komandos, political strategist Mussa Abdi Arale, and other members of the group’s Shura council and Fulinta (executive body) met.  Reportedly, Hizb al Islam rejected the proposal of launching a counteroffensive against al Shabaab and has adopted a self-defense strategy.[9]

[1] “US Third Most Wanted Terrorist Still Alive,” Asharq al Awsat, December 16, 2010.  Available:
[2] “US Says Accused Airline Bomber Had Help in Yemen,” Reuters, December 15, 2010.  Available:
“Court Document Abdulmuttallab Indictment December 15,” Fox News, December 15, 2010.  Available:
[3] “U.S. Embassy Staff Attacked in Yemen,” Fox News, December 16, 2010.  Available:
“Official Denies Americans were Targets by al-Qaeda Last Night,” Yemen Post, December 16, 2010.  Available:
[4] “Key South Yemen Opposition Leader Still Held: Son,” AFP, December 16, 2010.  Available:
[5] “Armed Men Attack Opposition Leader in Sana’a,” Yemen Post, December 15, 2010.  Available:
[6] “Shabaab Raids Ugandan Base, Executes Militia Element,” SITE Intel Group, December 14, 2010.  Available at SITE.
[7] “1000 TFG Somali Soldiers Passed out at Bihanga Military Training School,” Daily Monitor, December 15, 2010.  Available:
“900 Somali Soldiers Pass Out in Ibanda,” New Vision Online, December 15, 2010.  Available:
[8] “Somalia: Ahlu Sunna Claims Victory in Mogadishu Overnight Battle,” Shabelle Media Network, December 16, 2010.  Available:
“10 Killed in Mogadishu Overnight Fighting,” Shabelle Media Network, December 16, 2010.  Available:
[9] “Somali IDPs Under Intense Pressure from Militia Moves,” Africa Review, December 15, 2010.  Available:
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