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: Ansar al Sharia targets commander of First Military Region in Hadramawt; unidentified militants target pro-Houthi tribal leader in Ma’rib; unidentified militants detonate IEDs targeting military in al Dhaleh; AQAP urges attacks on Western airlines in 13th issue of English-language magazine

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants ambush Christmas party at AMISOM base in Mogadishu; senior al Shabaab leader surrenders to the Somali Federal Government; Somali National Army and AMISOM forces seize territory from al Shabaab in Hiraan region   

Yemen Security Brief

  • Ansar al Sharia militants attacked a convoy of the commander of the First Military Region Abdul Rahman al Halil on December 29 in al Qatan, Hadramawt, wounding three soldiers but failing to kill al Halil. Separately, Ansar al Sharia assassinated a Yemeni intelligence officer also on December 29 in al Bayda city, central Yemen.[1]
  • Unidentified militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting a pro-Houthi tribal leader on December 29 in Ma’rib city, east of the capital Sana’a, killing two. Ansar al Sharia militants often target pro-Houthi leaders.[2]
  • Unidentified militants detonated three improvised explosive devices (IED) targeting military vehicles belonging to the 33rd Armored Brigade in al Dhaleh, southern Yemen on December 29. It is suspected that Southern Movement supporters are responsible for the attack.[3]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the 13th issue of its English-language magazine Inspire on December 24. The magazine issue focused on urging lone wolf attacks on American and European airlines. The magazine also detailed how to make a non-metallic bomb that will pass through airport security, the same kind of bomb Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate on a Christmas day flight in 2009.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants disguised as Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers at a Christmas party in an AMISOM base in Mogadishu on December 25, killing three AMISOM soldiers and a civilian contractor.  Al Shabaab, which reportedly suffered eight casualties, later claimed responsibility for the attack.[5] 
  • Senior al Shabaab leader Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to the Somali Federal Government on December 27 in Gedo region. The U.S. government placed a $3 million bounty on Hersi’s head in 2012, but it remains unclear whether the reward will be paid to the Somali government.[6]
  • SNA and AMISOM forces seized multiples localities from al Shabaab militants in Hiraan region on December 29, including the towns of Hero Lugole, Rahale, Jar, Janbiley, Burweyn, Mirgab and Anfac.[7]   

[1] “Leader of first military region survives assassination attempt,” Barakish, December 29, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
“Inteligence officer, 2 others killed in Yemen,” World Bulletin, December 29, 2014. Available:
[2] “Two killed in VBIED in Mafraq Athban in Ma’rib, one injured,” Barakish, December 29, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
“Two killed in IED targeting vehicle of tribal leader loyal to al Houthis in Ma’rib,” al Masdar, December 29, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Three explosions target vehicles from 33 brigade in al Dhaleh,” Khabar Agency, December 29, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “AQ Chef advises lone wolves, threatens civil aviation in interview in Inspire 13,”SITE, December 24, 2014. Available:
“AQAP’s Inspire 13 outlines program to strike American economy,” SITE, December 24, 2014. Available:
“AQAP releases 13th issue of Inspire Magazine, suggests aviation, economic targets,” SITE, December 24, 2014. Available:
[5] “Militants Attack African Union Base; 9 Dead,” New York Times, December 25, 2014. Available:
“Death Toll in Somalia Base Attack Rises,” Voice of America, December 26. 2014. Available:
[6] “Al-Shabab leader with $3M price on hi shead surrenders in Somalia, official says,” Fox News, December 28, 2014. Available:
“Key Al-Shabab Commander Captured,” Voice of America, December 27, 2014. Available:
[7] “Somalia: Federal Govt, AU forces liberate new areas in Hiran,” Garowe Online, December 29, 2014. Available:
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