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: U.S. security officials warn of AQAP shoe bomb attack; al Houthis clash with residents in Amran; Yemeni soldiers find and clear over ten IEDs; Yemeni security forces disbanded a protest march in Aden

Horn of Africa: al Shabaab militants attack Somalia’s presidential palace in Mogadishu; al Shabaab threatens trade and stability in Mogadishu’s Heliwa district

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. security officials warned on February 20 that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may be planning to attack international airliners entering the United States with a shoe bomb. Officials also indicated that AQAP may send American and European fighters to Syria to gain explosives and military training.[1]
  • Clashes erupted between al Houthi fighters and local residents in Amran city, killing two people and wounding five others on February 21.[2]
  • The Yemeni 33rd Armored Brigade found and cleared over ten improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on a highway in al Dhaleh governorate on February 20.[3]
  • Yemeni security forces disbanded a protest march in Aden calling for Southern independence, killing one and injuring 12 demonstrators on February 20. The protest occurred on the same day that three prominent Southern movement leaders met in Beirut and condemned the violence against peaceful protestors.[4]   

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Approximately ten al Shabaab militants launched a coordinated attack against Somalia’s presidential palace, known as Villa Somalia, in the Wardhigley district of Mogadishu on February 21. A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) blasted through a gate before gunmen assaulted the compound. Reports indicated that the militants targeted a mosque within the presidential palace normally frequented by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud during Friday prayer. Although the president was unharmed, at least fifteen were killed in the attack, including the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Mohamud Hussein Abdulle “Indhacase”, former Chief of Intelligence Colonel Nur Shirbow, several Somali soldiers, and all of the militants. Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab confirmed the assault, stating the objective of the suicide commando attack was to seize the presidential palace.[5]
  • Al Shabaab issued a warning on February 20 to residents and business owners in Mogadishu’s Heliwa district to cease trade with Somali government forces. The warning came a day after al Shabaab militants launched mortar strikes at three different AMISOM and government bases in the district. The instability prompted hundreds of residents to flee and the government to deploy additional government troops to Heliwa district.[6]    
[1] “Latest shoe bomb threat linked to al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate,” Reuters, February 20, 2014. Available:
“Yemen Terrorists Behind Latest Warning and New Concerns Over Syria,” ABC News, February 20, 2014. Available:
[2] “Breaking/Amran: Two killed and five wounded in clashes between al Houthis and residents of Bayt al Faqih,” News Yemen, February 21, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Violence claims more than 100 dead and injured in 50 days; in al Dhaleh, 10 IEDs placed by unknown assailants disabled on highway as the army runs out of areas to clash with militants,” Akhbaralyom, February 21, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[4]“One dead as Yemen bans Aden independence protests,” AFP, February 21, 2014. Available:
“In first meeting in Lebanese capital Beirut Hadi cautioned on persistent blood shed... Al Beidh, Nasser, and Baoum declare war on the 'president' in the South,” Akhbaralyom, February 21, 2014 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] Abdi Sheikh, “Al Qaeda-linked militants attack Somali presidential compound,” Reuters, February 21, 2014. Available:
“Somali presidential palace: ‘Car bomb’ attack in Mogadishu,” BBC, February 21, 2014. Available:
“Somalia: Al-Shabab attack presidential compound,” Al Jazeera, February 21, 2014. Available:
 “Somalia: Gunmen storm Presidential compound, senior officials killed,” Garowe Online, February 21, 2014. Available:
[6] “Mogadishu’s Huriwa district at risk of al-Shabaab takeover,” Sabahi Online, February 20, 2014. Available:
“Mogadishu suburb business affected by Alshabab orders,” Dalsan Radio, February 21, 2014. Available:
“Somalia: Hundreds of families fleeing from Mogadishu for the first time in three years,” Horseed Media, February 20, 2014. Available:
View Citations
Arrow down red
Mar '14
Feb '14
Jan '14