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 senior official Khaled Batarfi calls for cooperation in Syria and warns against international negotiations; Yemeni Foreign Ministry bans visas for Lebanese travelers; gunmen assassinate military intelligence head in Aden

Horn of Africa: Kenya purchases ScanEagle UAS system from U.S.; al Shabaab releases English-language video featuring Canadian suicide bomber; KDF claims to kill multiple al Shabaab commanders in air strike in Gedo region, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) senior official Khaled Batarfi issued an audio statement on the conflict in Syria on February 24. Batarfi called for cooperation among foreign fighters and local populations in Syria and warned against internationally brokered negotiations, citing the 1995 Dayton Accords on the conflict in Bosnia as a cautionary tale. He also pointed to Afghanistan as a model for mutually beneficial coordination between locals and foreign fighters.[1]
  • Yemen’s Foreign Ministry under President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has ceased issuing visas to Lebanese citizens, according to pro-Saudi sources. The decision comes shortly after official allegations that Lebanese Hezbollah provided training and material support to al Houthi fighters in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have also curtailed ties with Lebanon amid growing sectarian tensions in the region. Saudi Arabia cut a four billion USD aid package to the country, while the United Arab Emirates withdrew several of its diplomats from Beirut. Several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have warned their citizens against travel to Lebanon, with the UAE banning travel outright.[2]
  • Gunmen assassinated Colonel Adham al Jaafari, head of military intelligence for Yemen’s Fourth Military District, in Aden’s Khormaksar district on February 26. The assassination is the latest in a long string of attacks on security officials and critical infrastructure, including several attempts on Aden’s governor and multiple suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS).[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Kenyan government reportedly purchased a ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from the U.S. for $9.86 million dollars.  An anonymous Kenyan military source said that Kenya will receive the drones in September 2016 and will use them to track al Shabaab’s movements and carry out battlefield surveillance in Somalia. A U.S. Air Force fact sheet for the ScanEagle notes that each system, which consists of four UAVs and a launch/recovery unit, costs 3.2 million dollars. The purchase price indicates that the Kenyans may acquire up to 12 UAVs and three launch/recovery units.[4]  
  • Al Shabaab released an English-language propaganda video featuring deceased Canadian suicide bomber Mahad Ali Dhore on February 25.  The video is the 17th in a series that features now-deceased militants discussing the group and its mission. Dhore, originally from Toronto, Canada, conducted a suicide attack at the Somali Supreme Court in Mogadishu in April, 2013. In the video, he calls for young Somali men in diaspora communities in the West to travel to Somalia and other jihadi battlefields, citing participation in jihad as an obligation for all Muslims.[5] 
  • Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) fighter jets conducted air strikes on an al Shabaab operations camp near the town of Tulo Barwaqo in Somalia’s Gedo region on February 25. The KDF reported that the strikes killed 10 al Shabaab militants, including four mid-level commanders, two of whom were identified as Abdullah Hussein Hassan and “Luqman.” [6] 


[1] “AQAP official slams conferences on Syria, urges Syrians and foreign fighters to work together in jihad,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 25, 2016, source available upon request.
[2] “No Visas For Lebanese Citizens In Yemen,” News Ghana, February 26, 2016,
“Yemeni Foreign Ministry bans giving visas to Lebanese,” Al Masdar, February 26, 2016,
Bassem Mroue, “Saudi Piles Pressure on Lebanon for Siding With Iran,” Associated Press, February 25, 2016,
[3] “Assassination of a senior officer in military intelligence in Aden,” Barakish, February 26, 2016,
“Gunmen assassinate colonel in military intelligence in Aden,” Al Masdar, February 26, 2016,
[4] “Kenya buys drones to fight against al Shabaab,” Goobjoog News, February 26, 2015,
“Fact Sheet: Scan Eagle,” United States Air Force. November 1, 2007,
[5] SITE Intelligence Group, source available upon request. 
[6] “Four Al shabaab commanders killed in KDF airstrike in southern Somalia,” Shabelle News, February 25, 2016,
“Official: 10 Al shabaab members, including 4 commanders killed in KDF airstrike,” Shabelle News, February 26, 2016,
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