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:  An AQAP leader is allegedly killed in Abyan airstrikes; six hostages kidnapped January 31 will reportedly be released in hours; three Yemeni soldiers killed in a militant ambush in Ma’rib; jihadist media group rereleases high quality video showing Ansar al Sharia’s release of Yemeni soldiers in Zinjibar

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab roadside bomb and grenade attack reportedly kill six Ethiopians; TFG President Sharif asks AU and UN to lift arms embargo; TFG arrests would-be suicide bomber; al Shabaab claims credit for suicide attack in Galkayo

Yemen Security Brief

  • Details have emerged following the U.S. airstrikes in Abyan governorate that killed at least five suspected al Qaeda-linked militants. A U.S. official stated that Talhah al Yemeni, an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader (AQAP), is believed to have been killed in the airstrikes.[1]
  • Tribal sources told AFP that the four aid workers accompanied by their two Yemeni drivers kidnapped on January 31 in Mahwit governorate “will be released within hours.” The abductors demanded the release of Ali Ghanem al Zubairi, but a tribal official believed that his release was unlikely because he was convicted of murder.[2]
  • Three Yemeni soldiers were killed in a suspected al Qaeda-linked militant ambush in al Hazma, nine kilometers from the city of Ma’ rib. Three soldiers were also injured in the attack. The soldiers were attacked while travelling between Ma’rib and the oilfields in Safir.[3]
  • Jihadist media group Al Ansar Mailing List released a high quality video on January 30 showing Ansar al Sharia fighters releasing Yemeni soldiers in Zinjibar. The video was first uploaded to YouTube in October 2011. In the video, Yemeni soldiers are seen praising the fighters and “pledge not to fight [Ansar al Sharia], and [they] pledge to follow the path of Islam and go home.”[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb and grenade attack in Beledweyne that reportedly killed six Ethiopian soldiers and injured five more. An eyewitness said that Ethiopian soldiers shot and killed the man responsible for the grenade attack.[5]
  • At the 17th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed asked the African Union and UN to lift an arms embargo in order to strengthen the TFG forces.[6]
  • The TFG National Security Agency announced the arrest of a would-be suicide bomber in Mogadishu. The bomber, Ismail Ahmed Yusuf, planned to attack Aden Adde International Airport.[7]
  • Al Shabaab’s spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Mus’ab claimed credit for the January 31 suicide attack on Abdi Hassan Awale Qebdid in Galkayo. He said, “Our bomber targeted Abdi Hassan. He is a great infidel. He used to be a minister for [Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s] government. . . . His bodyguards died in the attack. He escaped today, but we shall not stop targeting till we get rid of him.”[8]

[1] David S. Cloud, “U.S. Airstrikes Killed 5 Suspected Militants in Yemen,” LA Times, February 1, 2012. Available:,0,2198419.story
[2] “Yemen Hostages to Be Freed ‘within Hours’: Tribal Source,” AFP, February 1, 2012. Available:
[3] “Three Soldiers Killed in a Militant Ambush in Ma’rib,” Al Masdar Online, February 1, 2012. Available:
[4] “Al-Ansar Mailing List Releases Ansar al-Shariah Video of Releasing Soldiers,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 31, 2012. Available at SITE.
[5] Aweys Cadde, “Al-Shabaab Roadside Bomb Hits Beledweyne,” Somalia Report, February 1, 2012. Available:
[6] “Somalia: President Sharif Asks for Arms Embargo to Be Lifted,” Garowe Online, January 31, 2012. Available:
[7] “Potential Suicide Bomber Seized by Security Officials at Mogadishu’s Airport,” SONNA, January 31, 2012. Available:
[8] Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Bomber Targets Ex-Somali Police Chief, Kills Two,” Reuters, January 31, 2012. Available:
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