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: Clashes with al Qaeda-linked militants kill 10 people; national unity government announced; Southern Movement leader released from prison in Sana’a; jihadist post reports on unreleased Awlaki video

Horn of Africa: Warplanes bomb al Shabaab checkpoint near Bardhere; new fighting in Karan and Heliwa districts of Mogadishu; al Shabaab gets Twitter account; TFG soldier kills two civilian IDPs and wounds others in Mogadishu; Puntland security crackdown in Boosaaso; Ahlu Sunna launches security operations in Guriel

Yemen Security Brief

  • Security officials reported that al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a military post killing nine militants east of Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. Separately, a gunfight between Yemeni troops and al Qaeda-linked militants killed one soldier east of Zinjibar, as well.[1]
  • Yemeni Vice President Abdu Rabbu Mansour al Hadi formally announced Yemen’s national unity government on December 7. The new government consists of 35 cabinet members, divided equally between General People’s Congress (GPC) members and Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) members; Abu Bakr al Qirbi will remain Yemen’s Foreign Minister and Mohammed Salam Basendwah will continue to serve as Yemen’s interim prime minister. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Sana’a in protest of the new government. The government is set to be officially inaugurated on December 10.[2]
  • Security officials reported that Southern Movement leader Hassan Baoum and his son, Fawaz Baoum, were released from prison in Sana’a on December 7.[3]
  • Yemeni journalist Abdul Razzaq al Jamal posted an article on the Yemeni newspaper’s al Wasat website and a Yemeni forum about an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) video titled, “The Martyr of the Call,” that has yet to be released by AQAP’s media arm, Sada al Malahem (Echo of the Epics), on December 7. The article describes the unreleased video that features a speech from slain Yemeni-American radical cleric, Anwar al Awlaki and a eulogy for Awlaki given by AQAP official Ibrahim al Rubaish. In his speech, Awlaki says that America’s security will continue to be threatened as long as America continues its “aggression” against Muslims. He also advises Muslims in the West that they have two options which are “either emigration or jihad, either leave or fight, either emigrate and live among Muslims, or stay and follow the example of Nidal Hasan and others." The article also features a quote from Awlaki’s son, Abdul Rahman al Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike, saying "I hope to attain martyrdom as my father attained it.”[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Locals reported that warplanes bombed an al Shabaab checkpoint and militant bases near Bardhere in Gedo region. Bardhere town elder Abdi Aden said that he heard explosions and saw a minivan transporting one dead man and three others who were wounded.[5]
  • Fresh fighting broke out in Mogadishu’s Heliwa and Karan districts between al Shabaab militants and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces. AMISOM forces used tanks and heavy artillery. There have been reports of casualties, but numbers have not yet emerged.[6]
  • Al Shabaab began a Twitter account and has begun tweeting messages to followers. After an initial tweet in Arabic, “In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful," the group began sending out messages in English. Several of these tweets prefaced heavy fighting in Heliwa and Karan districts in Mogadishu, and other tweets discussed the “utter failure” of Kenyan forces in Somalia.[7]
  • A TFG soldier opened fire at a food aid distribution point in Terebunka in Hodan district in Mogadishu killing two internally displaced persons (IDPs) and wounding others. Shabelle Media Network reported that the soldier was trying to loot the aid. Shortly after the incident, other soldiers arrived and arrested him.[8]
  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, allied to the TFG, began security operations in the town of Guriel in Galgudud region. Locals reported that the group was focusing on teenagers in the town. The operation severely disrupted local traffic in the town.[9]

[1]Ahmed al Haj, “Yemen militants attack army in south, 10 killed,” AP, December 8, 2011. Available:
[2] Hakim Almasmari and Mohammed Jamjoom, “Yemen national unity government named,” CNN, December 7, 2011. Available:
“Yemeni National Reconciliation Government formed,” SABA News Agency, December 7, 2011. Available:
“Yemenis protest against regime loyalists in new cabinet,” AFP, December 8, 2011. Available:
[3] “Yemen releases southern opposition leader,” AFP, December 7, 2011. Available:
[4] “Yemeni Journalist Reports on Forthcoming Awlaki Video,” SITE Intelligence Group, December 7, 2011. Available at SITE.
[5] “Witnesses: Unidentified warplanes bomb militant bases in southern Somali town, 1 dead,” AP, December 8, 2011. Available:
[6] “Somalia fighting: New clashes in capital Mogadishu,” BBC, December 8, 2011. Available:
[7] Mary Harper, “Somalia's al-Shabab launches 'Twitter war,'” BBC, December 8, 2011. Available:
[8] “Soldier kills two IDPs during food aid handout in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, December 7, 2011. Available:
[9] “Ahlu Sunna forces launch search operations in central Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, December 8, 2011. Available:
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