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: Video features AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi; AQAP claims credit for assassination in Sana’a and IED attack on GPC headquarters in al Bayda; Saudi forces thwart al Houthi-Saleh missile attack on Jazan

Horn of Africa: Reported U.S. airstrike hits al Shabaab training camp in Shata Ameerika, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab assassinates two government workers in Mogadishu, Banadir region; militants threaten attack near Pandangou, Lamu County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video featuring Qasim al Raymi, the emir of AQAP, on December 18. This is the first video of Qasim al Raymi since he assumed the position, after his predecessor Nasir al Wuhayshi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in June 2015. In the video, al Raymi discusses the importance of unity among Muslims and emphasizes that the United States remains AQAP’s primary target. He also criticizes the declaration of an Islamic emirate in Yemen by the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS).[1]
  • AQAP-affiliated media outlet Ansar al Sharia News released statements on December 21 crediting AQAP for the assassination of an al Houthi commander in Sana’a city the day before. AQAP also claimed credit for several improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in al Bayda governorate, including an attack on the headquarters of the General People’s Congress (GPC) east of al Bayda city on December 21.[2]
  • Saudi-led coalition forces intercepted a missile fired by al Houthi-Saleh forces toward Jazan province in southern Saudi Arabia on December 21. The missile was reportedly targeting Aramco oil facilities. Saudi officials promised a severe response to the al Houthis, following four attempted missile attacks on Saudi and coalition positions in four days.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A reported U.S. airstrike hit an al Shabaab training camp on December 22 in Shata Ameerika, Lower Shabelle region. Somali officials confirmed the strike and said that the operation killed a senior al Shabaab commander, known as Abu Ubaydah, and four other militants. Al Shabaab has yet to comment on the strike.[4] 
  • Al Shabaab gunmen killed two government workers in separate attacks on December 21 in Mogadishu, Banadir region. In one attack, gunmen shot a central bank worker as he exited his home in the city’s Wadajir district. In the second attack, gunmen in a vehicle intercepted an intelligence officer’s vehicle opened fire in Mogadishu’s Hodon district. Al Shabaab claimed credit for both attacks.[5]
  • Residents of Pandangou village encountered unidentified militants on December 22 in Lamu County, Kenya. A villager reported that six militants briefly detained him in a nearby forested area. The militants told the villager to inform Kenyan Defense forces (KDF) that they are still present in the Boni Forest region and will attack soon. It is unclear if the militants are pro-Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) fighters or al Shabaab members because Jaysh Ayman, the militant cell active in the region, may have recently shifted its allegiances from al Shabaab to ISIS.[6]
[1] “Concepts (11) // closest enemy of Sheikh Qassem al-Rimi - may God protect him,” YouTube, December 18, 2015. Source available upon request.
“Qaeda leader Qasim al Raymi criticizes the declaration of an Islamic emirate currently in Yemen,” Barakish, December 22, 2015. Available:
[2] “AQAP claims bombing GPC HQ in al Bayda’, attack in Sana’a,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 21, 2015. Source available upon request.
[3] “Saudi warns of reprisals after new Yemen missile,” Yahoo News, December 22, 2015. Available:
“Saudis say shoot down Yemeni missile aimed at oil installations,” Reuters, December 22, 2015. Available:
[4] “Official: Suspected U.S. drone kills Al shabaab commander in Lower Shabelle region,” Shabelle News, December 22, 2015. Available:
 Mohamed Sheikh Nor, “Suspected U.S. Drone Strike Said to Target Al-Shabaab Camps,” Bloomberg Business, December 22, 2015. Available:
[5] “An official working for Somali central bank killed in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, December 21, 2015. Available:
“Somalia: Gunmen kill man in Mogadishu drive-by-shooting – Pictures,” Shabelle News, December 21, 2015. Available:
“Somalia: Intelligence Officer and Central bank employee shot dead in Mogadishu,” Horseed Media, December 21, 2015. Available:
[6] Kalume Kazungu, “Fear grips Lamu’s Pandanguo Village as man stumbles on armed Shabaab militants in Boni Forest,” Daily Nation, December 22, 2015. Available:
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