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:  Saudi Arabia arrests suspected AQ member; Yemeni forces arrest three AQ suspects; al Houthi insurgents release two Saudi soldiers; Saudi alleges AQAP received help from Pakistani expert

Horn of Africa: Somali weapons market thriving; Hizb al Islam reportedly takes control of Dhobley; three soldiers killed in Mogadishu; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a negotiating for PM position; Somali forces prepare for offensive

Yemen Security Brief

  • Saudi Arabia has arrested a suspected al Qaeda member, Ahmed Quteim al Huzali, in the Yanbu province. Huzali was No. 10 on a list of 85 militants wanted by the kingdom.[1]

  • Yemeni security forces arrested three alleged al Qaeda suspects in the Ma’rib governorate. The suspects were then moved by authorities to be questioned. Two of the suspects were allegedly Indonesian and one was Yemeni.[2]

  • According to the Yemeni Ministry of Defense, al Houthi rebels released two Saudi soldiers. This comes after the release of the first Saudi solider on Monday. Three out of five captured soldiers have been released thus far.[3]

  • Saudi Arabian officials claim a Pakistani bomb expert was lending his expertise to AQAP. The expert was “teaching and training” AQAP members “on how to make and use explosives.” Government officials claim the expert entered Yemen in 2009 to help AQAP in their battle against Riyadh and Sana’a. The expert was then killed in December 2009 in Sa’ada.[4]

Horn of Africa

  • The Somali weapons market has been thriving as of late. Abdi Hirsi, a weapons dealer, described business as “brisk,” with prices going up as much as 25%. Weapons readily available for purchase include, “sky shooters” – rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft, and anti-tank weapons. Somalia is laden with arms, having more weapons than people.[5]

  • Conflict in the Kenya-border town of Dhobley continues. Hizb al Islam forces reportedly took control of the town from al Shabaab. Residents claim al Shabaab fled the town and that it is now completely under the control of Hizb al Islam. The fighting between Islamist militants left at least six fighters dead. [6]

  • Three government soldiers were killed after government troops fired upon each other in Mogadishu. The cause of fighting is unclear at this time; however no civilians were killed or injured during the exchange of fire.[7]

  • Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a, a pro-government Sufi Islamist group, is reportedly negotiating with the TFG for the PM position. Preliminary talks are taking place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The meeting is being backed strongly by the African Union in an effort to include the group in the government.[8]

  • Somali government forces have assembled in Mogadishu to launch an offensive against Islamist militants in an effort to secure an area of the capital. This offensive is seen as a way for the Somali government to gather public support and function as a government within the capital. Somali troops are being backed by U.S. trained AU forces (AMISOM).[9]



[1] “Saudi Arabia arrests al-Qaida-linked suspect,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), February 17, 2010. Available:
[2] “Three suspects of al-Qaeda apprehended,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), February 18, 2010. Available:
[3] “Al-Houthi rebels release two Saudi soldiers,” Al Sahwa, February 18, 2010. Available:
[4] “Pakistani experts aiding Al Qaida in Saudi Arabia,” World Tribune, February 17, 2010. Available:
[5] “Somali weapons market booms,”, February 18, 2010. Available:
[6] “Hizbul Islam seizes border town from al Shabaab,” Mareeg Online, February 18, 2010. Available:
[7] “Fire Exchange Murders Three Soldiers in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, February 18, 2010. Available:
[8] “Ahlusunna Ask for Somalia PM Position in Talks with Govt,” Garowe Online, February 17, 2010. Available:
[9] “Somalia Prepares for Offensive,” The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2010. Available:
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