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: At least 10 al-Qaeda linked militants arrested in al Bayda; dozens injured in violent clashes between election supporters and opponents in al Mukalla; American ambassador stresses importance of a “national dialogue” in Yemen; “underwear bomber” sentenced to life imprisonment without parole

Horn of Africa: Car bomb explodes in police headquarters in Mogadishu; hundreds of Somalis flee from Mogadishu’s outskirts in fear of upcoming clashes near Afgoi; Kenyan troops kill four al Shabaab militants in Hawina village; al Shabaab releases seven messages detailing attacks on Kenyan and Somali soldiers, a car bomb in Mogadishu, and acts of charity

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni Central Security Forces and the Republican Guard have launched a series of raids against suspects in the February 15 assassinations of the head of the local electoral committee, Hussein Ahmed al Babli (whose son Ahmed was also killed), the commander of the governorate’s security committee, Colonel Khaled Waqaa, and two other officials. The sounds of gunshots and explosions were heard in two distinct locations: in the outskirts of al Bayda city, and in the center of the city itself. Reports indicate that at least 10 al Qaeda-linked militants were arrested during the raids.[1]
  • Dozens of people were injured during violent clashes between pro- and anti-election groups in al Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt governorate. This particular episode, the latest in a series of confrontations over the past week, occurred on February 16 when southern separatists threw stones and Molotov cocktails at election supporters who were staging a sit-in. Four tents were set on fire. When security forces intervened, the separatists fled immediately.[2]
  • In a press conference at the United States embassy in Sana’a, the American ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, said that the elections on February 21 will go on despite the Houthis’ and Southern Movement’s boycott of them. He stressed the need for a “national dialogue” after the elections between the different groups in the country, including addressing the legitimate grievances of Sa’ada governorate and the south. "We want Houthis to take part in the national dialogue, and abandon violence and armed action,” Feierstein said.[3]
  • On February 16, “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Throughout his trial he had insisted that his actions were in accord with the teachings of the Qur’an.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A car bomb detonated inside a police compound in Mogadishu. Police officers arrested two suspected car bombers and took their car to the criminal investigations department headquarters where it exploded. Lt. Aden Kalmoy Dhaqane reported that two people were wounded from the explosion. Officials believe that the bomb was detonated by a remote trigger.[5]
  • Hundred of Somalis are reportedly fleeing Mogadishu’s outskirts in fear of upcoming clashes between African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and al Shabaab militants. Vehicles were seen heading into the capital from Elasha Biyaha and KM-13 village. A district official reported, “Hundreds of displaced people are returning to Mogadishu fearing fighting in the [Afgoi] corridor.”[6]
  • Kenyan forces killed four al Shabaab militants on February 15, after al Shabaab launched an offensive against Kenyan and TFG troops in Hawina village near Dhobley. Kenyan army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir reported that a sniper rifle, three AK-47s, and communication equipment were seized.[7]
  • Al Shabaab released six communiqués on jihadist forums on February 16 with details on recent attacks carried out between February 8 and February 10. The attacks targeted Kenyan forces in Gedo and Jubba regions, and TFG troops in Banadir region. The release also provided details on the Hotel Muna bombing, which al Shabaab claims killed 15 people and wounded 30 others. In a separate message, al Shabaab claimed to have helped five elderly and disabled individuals in Bay region.[8]

[1] “Yemen Troops Capture 10 Militants after Attack,” Reuters, February 17, 2012. Available:
“Military Forces Launch a Campaign of Raids in al Bayda and Arrest 21 Suspects There,” al Masdar Online, February 17, 2012. Available:
[2] “Dozens Hurt in South Yemen Election Protests,” AFP, February 17, 2012. Available:
“20 Injured and 4 Tents Set on Fire in an Attempt by Southern Movement Supporters to Storm Change Square in Al Mukalla,” al Masdar Online, February 16, 2012.  Available:
[3] “Boycott Not to Affect Presidential Election: Says US Ambassador,” SABA News, February 17, 2012. Available:
[4] “‘Underwear Bomber’ Gets Life in Prison,” AP, February 17, 2012. Available:
[5] Abdi Guled, “Car Bomb in Somalia Police Compound Wounds 2,” AP, February 17, 2012. Available:
[7] “Troops Kill Four Shabaab Militants, Says Military,” Daily Nation, February 17, 2012. Available:
[8] “Shabaab Claims Attacks Against Kenyan, Somali Forces; Gives Charity,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 16, 2012. Available at SITE.
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