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: AQAP stones man to death for adultery in al Mukalla; al Houthi Republican Guard detachment defects to popular resistance in Nihm, Sana’a; pro-Hadi forces besiege al Houthi-Saleh FOB northeast of Sana’a; coalition-backed forces deploy reinforcements to northwestern Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Small explosion occurs aboard passenger plane in Mogadishu, Somalia; residents in Lamu County, Kenya protest recent al Shabaab attacks; Kenya receives Chinese APCs for counterterror operations; Kenya detains WFP supply trucks in Mandera County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) stoned a man to death for adultery in al Mukalla on February 1. Large crowds attended the event, and a pro-Ansar al Sharia media outlet posted photos of the execution on Twitter. The stoning is the second reported application of extreme shari’a law in AQAP’s stronghold since it took control of the city in April 2015. AQAP restricted media coverage of the last execution, the stoning of a woman for adultery on January 4.[1]
  • A Republican Guard detachment defected from the al Houthi-Saleh alliance and joined anti-al Houthi popular resistance forces in Nihm district in northeast Sana’a governorate, according to BBC Arabic and Saudi media outlets. The Republican Guards are controlled by former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The approximately 50 defectors coordinated with the popular resistance to ensure secure travel from their base at Beit Dahra in Nihm. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi reportedly met with his Army Chief of Staff to discuss measures to integrate the defectors into pro-Hadi units. [2]
  • Forces loyal to President Hadi and local popular resistance forces besieged a key base in Furdat Nihm, northeast of the capital Sana’a, on February 2. The location serves as a forward operating base for al Houthi-Saleh operations in neighboring Ma’rib and al Jawf governorates.[3]
  • Yemeni army and coalition reinforcements deployed to Midi and Haradh districts in northwestern Hajjah governorate. The reinforcements include heavy machinery and mine sweeping equipment. Coalition-backed forces claimed control of the strategic port of Midi last month, but fighting persists throughout Hajjah. The deployment comes amid reports of continuing clashes with al Houthi-Saleh fighters near the Saudi-Yemeni border.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A Daalo Airlines Airbus A321 suffered a small explosion approximately ten minutes after taking off from Mogadishu International Airport on February 2.  The plane, which was bound for Djibouti, made an emergency landing in Mogadishu. The explosion injured two passengers. It is not yet clear if the explosion was intentional or accidental, and no militants have claimed credit thus far.[5] 
  • Approximately 400 residents of Kenya’s Lamu County protested a recent string of al Shabaab attacks on February 2. The militant group detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) under a police truck on January 26 and executed three civilians in Pandanguo village on February 1.  The protesters also questioned the efficacy of Kenya’s Operation Linda Boni, which aims to clear the nearby Boni Nature Preserve of al Shabaab militants.[6] 
  • Kenya revealed on February 1 that it has received a delivery of 30 Chinese VN-4 light armored personnel carriers (APCs) at the General Services Unit (GSU) barracks in Ruaraka, Nairobi.  The vehicles can withstand small arms fire and shrapnel from explosives.  Some of the APCs are reserved for GSU units operating against al Shabaab fighters in Lamu County as part of Operation Linda Boni.[7]
  • Kenyan security forces seized three World Food Programme (WFP) supply trucks traveling through Kenya’s Mandera County on February 2 after local officials claimed that the trucks were providing supplies to al Shabaab with the support of the Somali government.  A WFP spokesperson denied the claims.[8]
[1] “Al Qaeda executes a citizen by stoning him to death in al Mukalla,”, February 1, 2016,
Wikalat al Athir, Twitter, February 1, 2016,
[2] “Yemen: Defection of a detachment of the army loyal to Saleh and the al Houthis,” BBC Arabic, February 1, 2016,
Mohammed Basha, Twitter, February 2, 2016,
[4] “National army reinforcements arrive in Haradh and Midi,”, February 2, 2016,
[5] “BREAKING Explosion on board an A321 few mins after taking off from Mogadishu,” Airlive News, February 2, 2016,
[6] Kalume Kazungu, “Mpeketoni residents stage protest over frequent Al-Shabaab terror attacks,” Daily Nation, February 2, 2016, “Two Reported Injured After Explosion on Airliner in Somalia,” VICE News, February 2, 2016,
[7] Dylan Malyasov, “Kenya to buy Chinese VN-4 multi-role light armoured personnel carriers, “ Defense Blog, February 1, 2016,  Elkana Jacob, “Kenya acquires armoured vehicles to fight terror,” The Star, January 31, 2016,
[8] Manase Otsialo, “Kenya seizes three World Food Programme trucks over alleged Shabaab link,” Daily Nation, February 2, 2016,  
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