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: One separatist killed and two others wounded in al Mukalla; former President Saleh reportedly leaves U.S.; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader vows to fight the Islah party

Horn of Africa: Airstrike kills at least four al Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron come out against airstrikes in Somalia at London conference; London conference communiqué highlights key areas that need to be addressed for Somali state to succeed; al Shabaab releases a statement condemning the London conference; al Shabaab releases communiqués claiming responsibility for terrorist attacks in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • On February 23, one separatist protester was shot and killed by Yemeni troops in al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate. Three others were wounded by gunfire. Supporters of the Southern Movement had gathered to celebrate the election boycott.[1]
  • U.S. officials reported that former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has left the U.S. on February 22 after receiving three weeks of medical treatment. He departed from Boston en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His future plans are unknown although he previously pledged that he would return to Yemen.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Fahd al Quso has threatened to fight the Islah (Reform) party in an interview conducted by al Ola newspaper. He accused the party of being a tool for U.S. interests.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An overnight airstrike on an al Shabaab convoy killed at least four militants, including three foreign jihadists, according to eyewitnesses. It was unknown who had launched it, but the fire allegedly came from five helicopters. The blast was reportedly larger than in past airstrikes launched by the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), which has denied carrying it out. The airstrike occurred in the al Shabaab-controlled “60K” area (so-called because it is 60 kilometers south of Mogadishu), in between Afgoi and Shalanbond in the Lower Shabelle region. The Transitional Federal Government’s security committee (TFG) applauded the airstrikes.[4]
  • Both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron came out strongly against airstrikes in Somalia during February 23’s London Somalia Conference. “I am not a military strategist but I think I know enough to say that air strikes would not be a good idea…And we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone, certainly not the United States, is considering that,” Clinton told reporters. Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said that he supports targeted airstrikes against al Shabaab.[5]
  • The communiqué issued by the London conference emphasized that the TFG’s mandate will end in August and there will be no extension. It also stressed the issues of piracy, transparency measures, terrorism, and security, all of which must be addressed for there to be any chance in rebuilding Somalia’s state.[6]
  • Al Shabaab released a statement on February 23 that strongly refuted the one-day London Somalia Conference. The statement read, in part: “With more than a dozen Christian nations mounting a concerted Crusade against the Muslims of Somalia, we, the leaders of Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen, hereby reaffirm our position that we will not under any circumstances allow any form of foreign intervention to be used as an instrument to subjugate the Muslims of Somalia and that we will confront and counter, by any means possible, all the outcomes of the London Conference.” They vowed to “wage war against the Western crusade until the Truth of Tawheed emerges triumphant over the falsehood over the Christian-Zionist Crusade.” [7]
  • On February 21, al Shabaab released four communiqués on jihadist websites claiming responsibility for terrorist attacks in Mogadishu. They included an assault on a military base in the Bakara market, the assassination of a police officer in Dharkenley, a car bombing at a police compound, and an explosion that destroyed a military vehicle at Tarbunik junction.[8]  

[1] “Yemen Troops Kill Secessionist Demonstrator in South,” Reuters, February 23, 2012. Available:
[2] “Officials: Yemen’s Outgoing Leader Leaves U.S.,” AP, February 23, 2012. Available:
[3] “Al-Qaeda Leader Threatens to Fight Islah,” Yemen Post, February 23, 2012. Available:
[4] “Somalia Air Strike ‘Kills Foreign al-Shabab Militants’, BBC News, February 24, 2012. Available:
Abdi Guled, “Report of Air Strike Said to Kill 4 in Somalia,” AP, February 24, 2012. Available:
“TFG Security Committee Hails Air Strikes Killed 6 Militants,” Shabelle Media Network, February 24, 2012. Available:
“Senior Al-Qaeda Operatives Killed Air Strikes in Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, February 24, 2012. Available:
[5] “Clinton, Cameron Rule Out Air Strikes Against Terrorist Forces in Somalia,” Xinhua, February 24, 2012. Available:
[6] “London Conference on Somalia: Communique,” UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, February 23, 2012. Available:
[7] “Al-Katai’b Media Presents a New Statement From Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahidin: ‘London Conference Aimed at Carving up the Somalia Nation,’” Jihadology, February 24, 2012. Available:
[8] “Shabaab Claims Bombings, Shootings in Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 21, 2012. Available at SITE.
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