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: Jihadist forum user posts missing segment of AQAP video; suspected U.S. targeted airstrike kills two AQAP militants in Hadramawt governorate; citizens protest targeted airstrikes in Hadramawt governorate; gunmen kill civilian in Aden governorate; security forces seize Iranian arms shipment off the coasts of Hajjah governorate; civilians kidnap three government workers in Shabwah governorate
Horn of Africa: U.S. State Department issues travel warning to Somalia; unknown gunmen kill a Kenyan police officer in Mandera, Kenya; al Shabaab militants are reinforcing Bulo-Burde, Hiraan region; five al Shabaab militants defected in Baidoa, Bay region; Kenyan forces catch al Shabaab leader in Kenya; al Shabaab says it is behind the nighttime artillery attacks on Mogadishu; Somali police capture two suspected al Shabaab militants in Guriel, Galgudud region; al Shabaab kills seven civilians in Elbur, Galgudud region; Nigeria to send 140 police officers to Somalia
Yemen Security Brief
- A jihadist forum user stated on December 27 that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) recently released video “Jihad of the Ummah” is missing a section. AQAP’s media arm, al Malahem Foundation, released the video on jihadist forums on December 23. According to the unidentified jihadist forum user, the original video released on December 23 is missing a section offering a bounty for the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein and U.S. soldiers. A reward of 3,000 grams of gold was offered for the killing of Ambassador Feierstein and five million Yemeni Riyals was offered for the killing of a U.S. soldier serving in Yemen. The rewards would reportedly be paid within six months of the announcement.
- A suspected U.S. targeted airstrike killed at least two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in al Shihr city in Hadramawt governorate on December 28. Several more were reportedly wounded in the airstrike.
- Thousands of citizens reportedly protested against American targeted airstrikes in al Shihr city in Hadramawt governorate on December 28. The protesters also refused to recognize the upcoming Yemeni National Dialogue.
- Unidentified gunmen killed a civilian in Dar Saad district of Aden governorate on December 28. Local sources reported that unidentified gunmen, suspected of being armed militants, shot dead an 18-year-old male identified as Mushtaq Fatina Abdullah. A note was found near Abdullah’s body reading, “This is the penalty for cursing God.”
- A local Yemeni news source reported on December 28 that security forces recently thwarted an Iranian attempt to smuggle weapons into Yemen. According to the Yemeni news source, security forces working with local fishermen seized an Iranian ship off the coast Midi port in Hajjah governorate. The weapons on board the Iranian ship reportedly traveled from South Africa to Yemen and hid the weapons under coal.
- Local sources reported on December 27 that civilians kidnapped three government workers in Shabwah governorate. The civilians reportedly kidnapped the government workers in order to put pressure on the Yemeni government to release Southern Movement activists being held in Sana’a.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The United States government issued a travel warning for Somalia on December 26. The warning was a reissuance of an earlier travel warning that was released on June 15. The U.S. government said that because of terrorist activity, clan fighting, frequent kidnappings and the lack of U.S. diplomatic presence in the country, it would not be wise for any American citizen to travel to Somalia.
- Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Kenyan police officer in Mandera, Kenya on December 27. The officer was on patrol with his partner when four assailants shot him and then stole his rifle. The second police officer was unharmed in the shooting. Kenyan police are searching for the killers but have already blamed the terrorist group al Shabaab for carrying out the attack.
- Al Shabaab militants are regrouping in the town of Bulo-Burde, Hiraan region. A security official from the Hiraan region, Ahmed Abdullahi, said that since the capture of Jowhar, Middle Shabelle, al Shabaab fighters have been convening in Bulo-Burde. Al Shabaab commander in Middle Shabelle, Yussuf Sheikh Isse is reportedly in the city. Somali and AMISOM troops are preparing an offensive to take the city, but the several hundred al Shabaab militants inside, are reinforcing Bulo-Burde and are preparing to defend it.
- Five al Shabaab militants defected and turned themselves in to Somali troops in Baidoa, Bay region on December 25. The five militants will be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
- Kenyan security forces caught a senior al Shabaab leader in Kenya on December 27. Sheikh Hassan Hussein was a senior representative of al Shabaab in Kenya where he worked to recruit youths to al Shabaab’s cause. Sheikh Hassan Hussein is known for pushing and supporting very hard-line tactics amongst the al Shabaab leadership.
- Al Shabaab has claimed to be behind nighttime artillery attacks in Mogadishu. An al Shabaab spokesman also said that the group has been carrying out operations in the city, including bombings. Al Shabaab asked people in Mogadishu to assist in its efforts against the Somali government.
- Somali police captured two suspected al Shabaab militants in Guriel, Galgudud region on December 28. The two suspects are foreigners, but their nationality has not been released. They are currently being questioned about a possible link to al Shabaab.
- Seven people, killed by al Shabaab, were found dead in Elbur, Galgudud region on December 27 and 28. Four of the deceased were men and three were women who were arrested by al Shabaab militants over a month ago. The seven people were taken into custody for not financially supporting the terrorist organization. Several of the people were beheaded and the rest were shot.
- Nigeria has agreed to send one Formed Police Unit, consisting of 140 police officers, to Somalia. The officers will be sent as a part of AMISOM and will give operational support to existing Somali police officers.