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 claims Pensacola attack; first UN medical flight leaves Sana’a

Horn of Africa: US airstrike kills al Shabaab militant in southern Somalia; suspected al Shabaab militants present northwestern Kenya’s Wajir County

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the December 2019 attack at the US naval base in Pensacola, Florida, on February 2. The attacker, Royal Saudi Air Force trainee Mohammad al Shamrani, killed three US sailors and injured eight others. AQAP released a speech by AQAP Emir Qassem al Raymi praising the attack and calling others to carry out similar acts of violence or cyber crime. A US airstrike targeted and likely killed Raymi in northern Yemen in late January. Salafi-jihadi accounts circulated a eulogy for Raymi following the airstrike but AQAP has not confirmed his death.[1]

The first United Nations (UN) medical flight flew from the Yemeni capital Sana’a to Jordan on February 3. This is the first civilian flight out of Yemen since 2015. The UN will supervise flights carrying patients from the Sana’a International Airport flying to Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt for medical treatment. The al Houthi movement controls the Sana’a airport and has only allowed UN planes to land. The UN has led numerous talks with al Houthi members to re-open the airport.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

A US airstrike targeted and killed an al Shabaab militant near Jilib, an al Shabaab stronghold in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region, on February 2. US Africa Command conducted two separate airstrikes targeting the militant group in late January.[3]

Kenyan locals reported the presence of suspected al Shabaab members in Dadbule in southern Wajir County in northwestern Kenya in early February.  A resident claimed that he saw 12 militants preaching and asking locals to keep their presence a secret from security forces. Dadbule is approximately 13 miles from Kamuthe in Garissa County, where al Shabaab militants attacked a police station and killed three teachers in mid-January.[4]

[1] “AQAP Claims Credit for Naval Air Station Pensacola, Leader Calls Lone Wolves to Act,” SITE Intelligence Group, February 2, 2020, available by subscription at; “Report: Al-Qaida Branch Claims December US Naval Base Shooting,” VOA, February 2, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 31, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute,

[2] “First medical flight leaves Yemen’s Sanaa in diplomatic breakthrough: Report,” Al Arabiya, February 3, 2020,

[3] “Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. conduct airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorist, “ US Africa Command, February 2, 2020,; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – January 29, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, January 29, 2020,

[4] “We’ve seen Shabaab militants, Wajir South residents say,” Nation, February 3, 2020,; and Tom Odule, “Al-Shabaab extremists kill 3 teachers in Kenya, abduct 1,” AP, January 13, 2020,

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