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: Two al Qaeda members arrested north of Sana’a; President Hadi will begin implementation of military restructuring at end of month; car bomb targeting security official defused in Ataq district, Shabwah governorate; pro-Southern demonstrators rally in Aden; U.S. Ambassador concerned about Iranian role in Yemeni politics; tribal elements kill three Ansar al Sharia members in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate; four tribal gunmen accused of killing soldier arrested; al Mahwit governorate security directorate increases security on road to Sana’a; former President Saleh’s nephew fired from battalion commander position in Yemeni special operations forces; famed smuggler killed on Saudi-Yemeni border; new security appointments in Hudaydah governorate

Horn of Africa: French forces attempt a failed rescue mission in Bulo Mareer, Lower Shabelle region; roadside bomb targets Somali MP in Mogadishu; two blasts go off in Hodan district, Mogadishu; bombs go off in Marka, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab militants kill two in Jilib, Lower Jubba; unknown gunmen attack bus traveling between Nairobi and Garissa, Kenya; three prisoners are injured during attempted escape from a prison in Galkayo, Mudug region; Somali President and Somali PM fly to the United States; representatives from the Somali government and the Somaliland government resume talks; AMISOM officials welcome increased access for humanitarian agencies in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni counterterrorism forces arrested two al Qaeda members on January 14 in a house in Jidar district north of Sana’a. The forces also seized a large quantity of explosives and bomb-making materials during the same raid.[1]
  • Unidentified sources claim that President Hadi will begin implementing Yemen’s military restructuring plan by the end of January. The first step of this plan consists of redeploying Yemen’s armed forces based on the new framework of seven military districts; the second step consists of defining the Yemeni armed forces’ legal role in accordance with a constitutional referendum.[2]
  • Security forces defused a car bomb in Ataq district, Shabwah governorate on January 13. The bomb’s target was Colonel Saleh bin Saleh al Akhal, Director of Criminal Investigations for Shabwah governorate. The bomb was planted on the car’s chassis, and was set to detonate when triggered by cell phone.[3]
  • Demonstrators continued to rally in support of Yemen’s Southern Movement in Aden’s Khormaksar Square on January 13. The estimated number of protesters varies across reports, ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands. Demonstrators waved flags of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and photographs of former vice president Ali Salem al Beidh.[4]
  • U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein said in a press conference on January 13 that the U.S. is concerned about “evidence that proves Iran’s support to some extremist elements of the Southern Movement.” He mentioned that former Yemeni vice president Ali Salem al Beidh was being used as an Iranian surrogate and “responsible for efforts to foil the Gulf initiative by supporting calls for secession.” He also commented on former President Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, Yemen’s security situation, and his hopes for a successful Yemeni military reorganization.[5] 
  • Yemeni tribal elements exchanged fire with members of Ansar al Sharia, AQAP’s insurgent arm, in Mahfad district, Abyan governorate, killing three members of the organization, including a member of its leadership. The attacks were purportedly in revenge for the assassination of Sheikh Ali Abdalsalam, an Awlaki tribal leader killed in Mahfad district on January 10.[6]
  • Four gunmen accused of killing a Yemeni soldier, Sergeant Naji Mahyoub al Qatabi, on December 23 were arrested on January 14 in Sana’a. The soldier was killed in an ambush during security operations against tribal elements in Masur Khulan district, along the Sana’a-Ma’rib road.[7]
  • The Security Directorate of al Mahwit governorate increased security on the road linking the province to Sana’a on January 12, deploying armored military vehicles to counteract the threat of tribal insurgents along the route.[8]
  • Lt. Col. Mohammad Mohammad Abdullah Saleh, the son of deposed President Saleh’s brother, was fired from his post as a battalion commander with Yemen’s counterterrorism forces on January 12.[9]
  • Yemeni smuggler Ibrahim Qatabi was killed on January 10 in the Saudi province of Hisama, along Saudi-Yemeni border. Qatabi hailed from the village of al Jilahif in Abs district of Hajjah governorate, and conflicting reports claim that Qatabi was killed either by Saudi border guards, or fellow smugglers.[10]
  • Staff Brigadier General Mohammad al Maqeleh, the director of security for Hudaydah governorate, re-appointed Colonel Waleed Hakmi to the Security Directorate in Zabeed district, and Lt. Col. Jalal al Sabani as director of Security in Beit al Faqih district on January 14.[11]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Fifty French forces attempted a failed rescue mission of French captive Denis Allex in Bulo Mareer in Lower Shabelle region on January 11. Denis Allex was a French intelligence operator who was captured by al Shabaab over three years ago. Two French soldiers died and 17 al Shabaab militants were killed during the battle. French authorities believe Allex was killed during the incident but an al Shabaab spokesman said Allex is still alive. U.S. President Barack Obama said American troops provided “limited technical support…but took no direct part in the assault.”[12]
  • A roadside bomb targeted Somali Member of Parliament, Mohamed Abdulahi, in the Wadajir District of Mogadishu on January 12. The MP escaped with minor injuries but one of his bodyguards is in critical condition.[13]
  • Two bombs went off in the Hodan district of Mogadishu on January 12. Two civilians were killed and another 5 were wounded in the explosion.[14]
  • Bombs went off in Marka, Lower Shabelle region on January 12. Exact casualty figure were not reported. The attacks were targeting businesspeople who were selling items to Somali troops and came a day after al Shabaab warned people against such transactions.[15]
  • Al Shabaab militants killed two civilians in Jilib, Lower Jubba on January 12, 2013. The al Shabaab fighters claimed the two civilians were spies for the Somali government.[16]
  • Unknown gunmen attacked a bus traveling between Nairobi and Garissa, Kenya on January 11. Two people were killed and another three were injured in the attack.[17]
  • Three prisoners attempted a jailbreak in Galkayo, Mudug region on January 13, 2013. The three prisoners were injured while their guards were subduing and re-arresting them.[18]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Somali Foreign Minister Fowzia Yusuf Haji Aden flew to the United States on January 13. President Mohamud said the purpose of the trip was to increase relations in security and humanitarian matters.[19]
  • Representatives from the Somali government and the secessionist government of Somaliland will resume talks. The two sides met last in June 2012 in the United Arab Emirates, focusing on international support, counter-terrorism, and counter-piracy. The Somaliland government has maintained its position throughout the talks that the Somali government must recognize its independent status.[20]
  • AMISOM officials issued a press release highlighting reports indicating that humanitarian workers have greater access and are safer in Somalia following the recent advances against al Shabaab.[21]    

[1] “Breaking .. Security Apparatus Arrests al Qaeda Cell and Confiscated Explosives and Explosive Belts in Sana’a,” Barakish Net, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “President Hadi Schedules End of the Month for the Start of Restructuring,” Mareb Press, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Yemeni Interior Ministry: Car Bomb Defused on a Security Official’s Car in Shabwah,” al Masdar Online, January 13, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Hundreds of thousands rally for south Yemen self-rule,” AFP, January 13, 2013. Available:
“Ma’reb Press Publishes the Political Statement Published on Southern Reconciliation and Tolerance Festival,” Ma’reb Press, January 13, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “US Envoy says Iran working to destabilize Yemen: Report,” Reuters, January 13, 2013. Available:
“Iranian Escalating Role in Yemen Concerns USA,” Saba News, January 13, 2013. Available:
[6] “Yemeni Defense Ministry Reveals Armed Clashes with Al Qaeda in Northern and Southern Yemen,” Sahafah, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Accused Arrested in Killing of a Soldier in Sana’a,” al Masdar Online, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Al Mahwit Security Raises Tribal Elements on the Road to Sana’a,” News Yemen, January 12, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Firing of Saleh’s Brother’s Son from Leadership of Special Missions Unit Specializing in Counterterrorism,” al Masdar Online, January 12, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Ibrahim Qatabi: Famed Yemeni Smuggler Killed on the Saudi-Yemeni Border,” al Masdar Online, January 12, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[11] “Security Appointments in Hudaydah Governorate,” al Masdar Online, January 14, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[12] “France Defends Failed Somali Raid as Civilian Toll Mounts,” AFP, January 12, 2013. Available:
“Shabaab Claims Foiling French Hostage Rescue Attempt,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 12, 2013. Available at SITE.
“U.S. Supported France’s Failed Hostage Rescue in Somalia,” CNN, January 14, 2013. Available:
“19 Killed in Somalia Raid to Free French Hostage,” January 12, 2013. Available:
“Text of A Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate,” Office of the Press Secretary, January 13, 2013. Available:
[13] “Bomb Explosions Rock Mogadishu, Capital of Somalia,” Kulmiye News, January 12, 2013. Available:
“Somali MP Survive Roadside Bomb in Mogadishu,’’ January 12, 2013. Available:
[14] “Bomb Explosions Rock Mogadishu, Capital of Somalia,” Kulmiye News, January 12, 2013. Available:
[15] “Bombs Attacks with Marka Town and Some People Caught,” January 12, 2013. Available:
[16] “Al Shabaab Execute Tow Civilians in Jilib,” January 12, 2013. Available:
[17] “Two Killed After Gunmen Attack Bus,” January 13, 2013. Available:
[18] “Three Inmates Injured in Southern Galkayo,” Bar Kulan, January 14, 2013. Available:
[19] “Somali President Hassan Flies to US for First Visit,” January 13, 2013. Available:
[20] “Somalia-Somaliland Talks to Resume,” Bar Kulan, January 13, 2013. Available:
[21] “Humanitarian Access to Somalia Improves Following al Shabab Defeats,” AMISOM, January 11, 2013. Available:
View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '13
Jan '13
Dec '12