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: GPC and Ansar Allah representatives agree on government reshuffle and discuss political and military activity in Sana’a governorate; AQAP emir eulogizes fallen commander; U.S. imposes new restrictions on Yemen, Somali, and Libya travelers

Horn of Africa: NISA forces detain 300 in Mogadishu security sweep; Kenya and Ethiopia to offer helicopters to support AMISOM; Kenyan police arrest Nairobi student attempting to join ISIS in Libya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Representatives of the pro-Saleh General People’s Congress (GPC) and the al Houthi Ansar Allah met to discuss changes to the government in Sana’a, as well as military and political developments in the districts around the capital. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on February 14 calling for the creation of a new government of “true partnership” between Ansar Allah and the GPC. Meanwhile, former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi discussed the ongoing fight for the districts surrounding Sana’a, according to a media outlet supportive of Lebanese Hezbollah. The pro-Hezbollah report confirms rumors that several tribes in Sana’a withdrew their support for Saleh and now back the Saudi-led coalition.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emir Qasim al Raymi released a eulogy for AQAP and Ansar al Sharia commander Jalal al Bal’idi al Marqishi on February 10, through a local media channel. Al Raymi addressed the eulogy to his “brothers in Abyan,” a term that al Marqishi used in his own statements. Al Raymi blamed American Christians for al Marqishi’s death, and praised al Marqishi for instilling fear in his enemies, even from afar. Jalal al Bal’idi al Marqishi was killed by a reported U.S. airstrike in Abyan governorate on February 3.[2]
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland security (DHS) imposed new visa requirements on visitors who have traveled to Yemen, Somalia, or Libya within the last five years. DHS added the three countries to a list of “countries of concern,” following legislation passed in the wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks. Travelers eligible for the visa waiver program, which applies to many U.S. allies, must now apply for a visa if they have visited any countries of concern within the past five years. Waivers will continue to be available on a case-by-case basis. Yemen, Somalia, and Libya join Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria on DHS’s list of countries of concern.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) forces conducted a security sweep of the Helliwa and Yakhshid districts in Mogadishu, Somalia on February 18 and detained approximately 300 terrorism suspects.  All but 26 of the group were released after questioning.  This operation comes a week after al Shabaab conducted several raids in the nearby town of Afgooye and claimed responsibility for a spate of car bombs and shootings in Mogadishu.[4] 
  • The African Union announced that both Kenya and Ethiopia have offered use of their military helicopters to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for continued operations against al Shabaab in Somalia.  The current AMISOM mandate, under UN Security Council resolution #2036 of 2012, allows troop-contributor countries to deploy up to nine utility and three attack helicopters for AMISOM’s use.  The African Union claimed that this plan, should it be approved, would increase air support for ground operations, as well as enhance logistics and troop transport capabilities.[5] 
  • Kenyan police arrested a University of Nairobi biochemistry student who was in the process of leaving Kenya to join ISIS in Libya.  Hassanein Ahmed Basty was detained near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on February 18 while attempting to board a flight to Sudan in an attempt to secure passage to Libya, Kenyan police reported.  Police claim that Basty was approached online by an ISIS recruiter and offered almost $2,000 to be a phlebotomist for the group’s Libyan affiliate.  Several reports of Kenyans, including college students, leaving the country to join ISIS surfaced last year. The Kenyan government is developing and implementing programs to curb the radicalization of young people, especially in cases of online recruitment.[6] 
[1] “’Memorandum of understanding’ between ‘Ansar Allah’ and ‘General People’s Congress,’” Al Akhbar, February 17, 2016,
[2] “AQAP leader gives eulogy for military commander killed in drone strike,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 17, 2016, source available upon request.
Sasha Gordon, “Abyani Tribes and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen,” Critical Threats, July 25, 2012,
[3] “U.S. adds visa restrictions to Yemen, Somalia, Libya travelers,” Reuters, February 18, 2016, 
[4] “Somali security police nab 300 suspects in operation,” Xinhua Africa News, February 18, 2016,
[5] “Kenya, Ethiopia offer AMISOM helicopters for war on al Shabaab,” Hiiraan News Online, February 19, 2016,
[6] Cyrus Ombati, “University of Nairobi student arrested on his way to Libya to join ISIS terror group, “ Digital Standard Media, February 18, 2016,  
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