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: U.S. attempts raid to free American journalist Luke Somers in Shabwah; five IEDs target al Houthis in capital Sana’a; Southern Movement gunmen kidnap five soldiers in al Dhaleh

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab militants detonate explosives at restaurant in Bay region; Somali Prime Minister resigns after vote of no confidence; al Shabaab gunmen assassinate official in Bay region

Yemen Security Brief

  • United States Navy Seal Team 6 commandos attempted to rescue American journalist Luke Somers, held hostage by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) since September 2013, on December 6 in Abdan, Shabwah. AQAP militants were alerted to the operation when U.S. forces were approximately 100 yards from the compound in which Luke Somers was held. AQAP militants then shot Luke Somers and another South African hostage, Pierre Korkie, mortally wounding both. The Yemeni government stated that ten AQAP members were killed during the operation, including a local AQAP commander Jamal Mubarak al Harad al Daghari al Awlaki.[1] 
  • Suspected AQAP militants detonated five roadside improvised explosive devices (IED) targeting al Houthi fighters in Sana’a on December 8, wounding eight people. Yemeni security forces dismantled another two separate IEDs also in Sana’a.[2] 
  • Gunmen suspected of belonging to the Southern Movement kidnapped five soldiers on December 8 in Naqil al Rabadh in al Dhaleh. The militants demanded the release of a southern activist who had recently been arrested on charges of weapons possession.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Review

  • Suspected al Shabaab militants detonated a suicide vest and vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at a restaurant in Baidoa, Bay region on December 5, killing 15 civilians and wounding 30 others.[4]
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed resigned on December 6, accepting the result of a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister by the Somali Federal Parliament. Parliament voted 153-80 in support of a vote of no confidence during a December 6 session.[5]
  • Suspected al Shabaab gunmen shot and killed the mayor of Burhakaba, Bay region on December 6. Separately, al Shabaab militants suspended the operations of Hormud Telecommunication services in multiple towns in Bay region on December 7. Hormud reportedly halted its services after orders from the militant group.[6]

[1] Kareem Fahim and Eric Schmitt, “2 hostages killed in Yemen as U.S. rescue effort fails,” The New York Times, December 6, 2014. Available:
Adam Entous, “Luke Somers raid in Yemen: how it went wrong,” The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2014. Available:
U.S. Department of State Press Release, December 6, 2014. Available:
“Thirteen killed in failed U.S. hostage rescue bid in Yemen,” Reuters, December 8, 2014. Available:
[2] “Roadside bombs targeting Houthis explode in Yemen’s capital, several wounded,” Reuters, December 8, 2014. Available:
“Five IED explode, two dismantle in Sana’a,” 26 September, December 8, 2014. Available:
[3] “Gunmen kidnap 5 soldiers in Naqil al Rabadh in al Dhaleh,” Barakish, December 8, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Death toll from suicide attack in Somali town rises to 15,” Reuters, December 6, 2014. Available:
Mohammed Ibrahim, “Twin Bombings Hit a Café in Somalia,” The New York Times, December 5, 2014. Available:
[5] “Somalia PM Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed to resign after parliament vote,” BBC, December 6, 2014. Available:
[6]“Somalia: Burhakaba mayor killed in Al Shabaab ambush,” December 6, 2014. Available: 
“SOMALIA: Al-shabab halts Hormud telecommunication company services in parts of Somalia,” RBC Radio, December 7, 2014. Available:
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