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: Suspected AQAP militants enter Habban in central Shabwah; popular resistance forces kill three AQAP militants at checkpoint in Abyan; UK MPs call for halt to Saudi arms sales

Horn of Africa: Suspected al Shabaab car bomb targets aid worker in Mogadishu, Somalia; Kenyan police arrest five al Shabaab recruiters in Nairobi, Kenya; circulation of al Shabaab attack media banned in Mandera County, Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants entered the city of Habban in Shabwah governorate on February 3, according to breaking reports. Militants approached in armored vehicles from the direction of nearby Azzan, which AQAP seized on February 1. Sources report that the group is moving toward Ataq, Shabwah’s capital. AQAP controls a largely continuous swath of territory across southern Yemen, from the borders of Aden governorate to al Mukalla, Hadramawt.[1]
  • Popular resistance forces reportedly killed three AQAP militants in clashes at a resistance checkpoint in Abyan on February 3. Sources indicate that the militants were headed west toward Aden. Popular resistance forces in Abyan helped pro-government forces expel AQAP from key cities in the summer of 2012 but have recently avoided confrontation with the group, which retook Zinjibar and Ja’ar in late 2015.[2]
  • UK members of parliament called for a halt in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and an independent investigation into the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen. The call follows a recent UN report highlighting potential violations of international law by both the Saudi-led coalition and the al Houthi-Saleh alliance. The Saudi-led coalition responded by announcing an independent inquiry into civilian casualties allegedly caused by its air campaign.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • A car bomb targeted Hassan Sharif, a prominent Somali aid worker, outside of a hospital in the Hamar-Jajab district of Mogadishu on February 2.  Mr. Sharif survived the attack. No group has claimed the attack, but the target and tactics suggests al Shabaab.[4]    
  • Kenyan police arrested five men in the Komarock and Kayole neighborhoods of Nairobi, Kenya on February 3 for allegedly attempting to recruit local youths to travel to Somalia to train with al Shabaab.  Police followed the men, two of whom are Kenyan and three of whom are Somali, after locals reported that they were posing as job agents and luring young people with the promise of employment in Somalia.[5]
  • Local authorities in Mandera County, Kenya called for a ban on the circulation of pamphlets announcing forthcoming attacks by al Shabaab militants. Local officials claimed that the pamphlets, which are distributed by the militants and their sympathizers in local communities and on social media, are raising fears of attacks and causing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to withdraw non-local staff.[6]

[1] “Breaking: Fall of the city of Habban in the hands of the group Ansar al Sharia,” Aden Monitor, February 3, 2016,
Muhammand Jawban Shabwah, “Breaking,” Facebook, February 3, 2016,
“Al Qaeda in view of the capital of Shabwah and preparing to invade,” Al Yaman al Araby, February 3, 2016,
[2] “Three dead from among the member of al Qaeda in clashes at a checkpoint in Abyan,” Al Masdar, February 3, 2016,
[3] Patrick Wintour, “MPs call for immediate halt of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” The Guardian, February 3, 2016,
[4] “Somalia: Aid Worker Survives Car Bomb Explosion in Mogadishu,” All Africa News, February 2, 2016,  “Somali police details car bomb explosion in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, February 3, 2016,
[5] “5 Al Shabaab Suspects Busted Recruiting in Nairobi,” Shabelle News, February 3, 2016,
[6] “Kenya warns against circulation of Al-Shabaab attack messages,”  Xinhua Africa News, February 3, 2016,
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