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: Al Houthis attack hospitals in Ma’rib governorate; Saudi-led coalition and al Houthis begin UN-backed prisoner swap negotiations

 Horn of Africa: FBI begins training Kenyan counterterrorism officers; al Shabaab defector surrenders to Somali authorities; al Shabaab IED kills SNA troops; al Shabaab fires mortar at AMISOM base

 Yemen Security Brief

Al Houthi militants bombed al Jafra and al Saudi hospitals in Majzar district in northern Ma’rib governorate on February 7, according to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The bombings occurred after al Houthi militants attacked a residential neighborhood in Ma’rib. UNOCHA announced that the bombings hampered health services for thousands of displaced people in the governorate.[1]

The Saudi-led coalition and the al Houthi movement began UN-backed negotiations in the Jordanian capital Amman on February 10 to discuss a prisoner swap. A UN deputy spokesman stated that this third round of negotiations also focused on re-opening Sana’a International Airport in the Yemeni capital. The first UN medical flight flew from the capital Sana’a to Jordan in early February, marking the first civilian flight out of Yemen since 2015. [2]  

Horn of Africa Security Brief

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Department of State announced a training program for a cohort of Kenyan police and intelligence officers at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, on February 10. The program’s graduates will establish the first Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) outside of the US in Nairobi, Kenya. Planning for the initiative began after al Shabaab’s attack on Nairobi’s DusitD2 Hotel in January 2019. The attack killed more than 20 people, including one American.[3]

Ugaas Mohamed Moalim, a clan elder in Somalia’s southern Jubbaland state, defected from al Shabaab and surrendered to local Somali forces on February 9. Moalim admitted to spying and raising money for the militant organization. Somalia offers leniency to repentant al Shabaab members that renounce violence and extremism. Moalim’s defection follows that of a senior al Shabaab foreign fighter in October 2019.[4]

Al Shabaab detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a convoy of Somali soldiers at a checkpoint in Kahda district in the capital Mogadishu on February 10. The explosion killed three soldiers and wounded five others.[5]

Al Shabaab launched mortar rockets on an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base near the town of Halgan in Somalia’s central Hiraan district on February 10. AMISOM has yet to comment on the attack. Al Shabaab launched a similar mortar attack on an AMISOM base in the neighboring Middle Shabelle region on February 2.[6]

[1] “The United Nations: attack on two hospitals in Marib halted health services for thousands of displaced people,” Mareb Press, February 11, 2020,; and “Hospitals in Yemen attacked, disrupting healthcare for thousands of vulnerable civilians,” UN, February 10, 2020,

[2] “Yemen talks about prisoner exchange underway in Jordan,” Associated Press, February 10, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review - February 3, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 3, 2020,

[3] “FBI, State Department Partner with Kenya to Launch First Overseas Joint Terrorism Task Force,” FBI, February 10, 2020,; “The Department of State and FBI Partner with Kenya to Launch First Overseas Joint Terrorism Task Force,” US Department of State, February 10, 2020,; and Joseph Mwihia, “Al-Shabaab extremists claim deadly attack on Nairobi hotel,” Associated Press, January 15, 2019,

[4] “Senior Al-Shabaab elder surrenders in Somalia in a surprise move,” Garowe, February 10, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 22, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at AEI, January 22, 2020,

[5] “Roadside Bomb outside capital Mogadishu kills 3,” Mustaqbal Radio, February 11, 2020,

[6] Abdirisak Tuuyare, “Deadly Rockets Hit African Union Troops’ Base In Central Somalia,” Mareeg, February 10, 2020,; and “Al-Shabaab attacked SNA base in Qaliwo, Middle Shabelle region,” Goobjoog, February 3, 2020,

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