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: US Navy intercepts Iranian-made weapons likely bound for the al Houthis; al Houthi militants clash with Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government forces in northern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition begins trials for Yemen war crimes

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab targets Kenyan police reservists; US removes sanctions from Somali company accused of funding militant organizations

Yemen Security Brief

A US Navy vessel intercepted a dhow carrying Iranian-made anti-tank guided missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and other advanced weapon components in the Arabian Sea. US Central Command stated that many of the seized weapons were identical to a cache seized in November 2019 that was intended for the al Houthis in Yemen.[1]

Saudi-led coalition forces and al Houthi militants clashed in Yemen’s northern governorates of Ma’rib and al Jawf on February 13. The coalition launched airstrikes on al Houthi militants in Majzar district in Ma’rib governorate. Hadi government forces clashed with al Houthi militants in al Jawf governorate. The al Houthi movement confirmed the death of six military commanders caused by the clashes.[2]

The Saudi-led coalition began judicial proceedings for military personnel accused of potential war crimes in Yemen. The UN has accused Saudi-led coalition forces of violating international humanitarian law.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab burned down three homes belonging to Kenyan National Police Reserve (NPR) officers in the town of Sangailu in Kenya’s eastern Garissa County on February 12. The arson follows a string of recent attacks targeting NPR officers. Al Shabaab killed a reservist and a reservist’s father in the same area over the past week. A local official posited that al Shabaab is punishing NPR officers for providing intelligence to security agencies on the militants’ whereabouts.[4]

The US Department of the Treasury removed sanctions from the Somali company Barakaat on February 12. The group’s companies transfer remittances from the global Somali diaspora to their families in Somalia. The George W. Bush administration accused the company of funneling millions of dollars annually to former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the Somali Islamic Courts Union. The US Congress never found any connection between Barakaat’s companies and militant organizations during subsequent investigations. The Treasury Department stated that Barakaat subsidiaries previously involved in funding militants are defunct and no longer operational.[5]


[1] “US Navy seizes illegal weapons in Arabian Sea,” US Central Command, February 13, 2020,; and Bill Faries, “U.S. Seizes Boat Allegedly Carrying Iranian Missiles to Yemen,” February 13, 2020,

[2]  “The coalition bombed militia gatherings in the Majzar district,” 7adramout, February 13, 2020,; “Dozens of Houthi militia have been killed in confrontations with al ghali,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, February 13, 2020,; and “The Houthis acknowledge the killing of 5 field leaders with military ranks and publish their names.” Mareb Press, February 13, 2020,

[3] “Yemen war: Saudi-led coalition forces face trials over violations,” BBC, February 13, 2020,

[4] Farhiya Hussein and Bruhan Makong, “Shabaab attackers torch homes in Garissa,” Daily Nation, February 13, 2020,

[5] Samuel Fubenfeld, “U.S. Removes Sanctions on Somali Group of Companies,” Kharon, February 12, 2020,; “Terrorist Financial Network Fact Sheet,” White House Press Secretary, November 7, 2001,; and “Counter Terrorism Designations Removals,” US Department of the Treasury – Office of Foreign Assets Control, February 12, 2020,

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