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: Yemen peace talks postponed; two Yemeni Guantanamo detainees released to Ghana; Saudi-led coalition denies using cluster bombs; coalition-backed forces attack al Houthi-Saleh positions in Taiz and Hajjah
Horn of Africa: American al Shabaab member officially indicted by U.S. Department of Justice; Libyan ISIS fighters release video encouraging al Shabaab militants to defect; unidentified gunmen kill a Kenyan police officer in Mombasa, Kenya
Yemen Security Brief
- A UN spokesperson confirmed on January 12 that the next round of UN-led Yemen peace talks will take place after January 20. The UN initially scheduled talks for January 14, but the al Houthi delegation reportedly rejected the proposed start date. The prior round of talks took place in mid-December and failed to establish a sustainable ceasefire.
- The U.S. Department of Defense announced the transfer of two Yemeni Guantanamo detainees to Ghana on January 6. Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al Dhuby voiced their desire to live peacefully in Ghana in an interview with a state radio station on January 11. Bin Atef and al Dhuby were held under suspicion of ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda after traveling to militant training camps in Afghanistan.
- Saudi-led coalition spokesperson Brigadier General Ahmed al Asiri denied the coalition’s use of cluster bombs on targets in Sana’a or other urban areas in Yemen in a January 12 statement. He said that the coalition used a cluster bomb once during an airstrike targeting military vehicles in Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen.
- Coalition-backed forces launched several attacks on al Houthi-Saleh positions in northwestern and southern Yemen on January 12. Popular resistance forces clashed with al Houthi-Saleh troops southwest of Taiz city, which remains contested amidst an ongoing stalemate. Coalition-backed forces also continued an offensive in Hajjah governorate, one week after taking control of Midi port near the Saudi-Yemeni border.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The U.S. Department of Justice indicted former al Shabaab member Malik Alim Jones for membership in a designated foreign terrorist organization, as well as providing material support for and receiving training from al Shabaab. Jones, a former resident of Maryland, traveled to Kenya and crossed into Somalia to join al Shabaab in July 2011. Jones was a member of the Jaysh Ayman cell that operates in Kenya’s Boni Forest region and reportedly participated in a number of attacks on the Kenyan military. Jones also appeared in two videos released by al Shabaab. Jones was captured by the Somali government on December 7, 2015 in Barawe, Lower Shabelle region while seeking passage to Yemen. Jones is currently in U.S. custody and will stand trial.
- The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Tarablus, based in Tripoli, Libya, released a video praising former al Shabaab militants who defected to join pro-ISIS groups. The video features two Somali militants, who condemn al Shabaab’s attacks on pro-ISIS defectors and call for more al Shabaab members to defect and start a Caliphate in the region.
- Unidentified gunmen killed a Kenyan police officer on January 12 in Mombasa, Mombasa County, Kenya. Gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on the police officer who was escorting a lorry, killing him and taking his weapon before fleeing the scene. The attack is unclaimed, but al Shabaab has targeted security personnel for their weapons in the past.