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 attack a security checkpoint in Wadi Hadramawt; Human Rights Watch reports that al Houthis used school for the blind as a base; ten Yemeni Guantanamo detainees  transferred to Oman

Horn of Africa: AMISOM and SFG forces arrest al Shabaab militants in Lego, Lower Shabelle region, Somalia; Kenyan security forces bolster presence in Mandera County, American al Shabaab member pleads not guilty to terrorism charges; al Shabaab gunmen attack El Buur airfield in Galguduud region, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Militants fired rocket propelled grenades at a security checkpoint in Wadi Ser, near Shibam city in central Hadramawt governorate on January 13. The attack is unclaimed, but some reports indicate that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked a checkpoint in the same area on January 12. The attacks on Wadi Ser follow reports that AQAP moved heavy weapons and military vehicles northward from its coastal stronghold at al Mukalla, though this convoy’s destination remains unknown. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Hadramawt has also attacked military sites in central Hadramawt in recent months.[1]
  • Human Rights Watch reported that al Houthi forces used the compound of the Noor Centre for the Blind in Sana’a as a base. The Saudi-led coalition launched strikes in the area on January 5. A coalition bomb hit the center and did not explode, but shock damage from the bomb’s impact injured four civilians.[2]
  • The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed the transfer of ten Yemeni Guantanamo detainees to Oman, where they will remain until they can be safely transferred to Yemen. The announcement follows the transfer of two Yemeni detainees to Ghana last week. President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center in his State of the Union address on January 12.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali Federal Government (SFG) troops arrested six al Shabaab militants and seized a weapons cache during a raid in Lego district, Lower Shabelle region.  A Somali government official said that investigators will interrogate the suspects for information about additional fighters suspected to be in the region.[4]
  • Kenyan security forces deployed 100 additional troops to Mandera County to enhance security along the Kenyan-Somali border. The contingent is composed of Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), paramilitary units, and Rapid Deployment Units (RDU), as well as intelligence teams from the Kenyan Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID).  The CID teams participated in the arrest of eight al Shabaab militants in Mandera County on January 11.[5]
  • Malik Alim Jones, an American citizen and former al Shabaab member, pleaded not guilty to federal terrorism charges following his indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice. Jones allegedly fought with al Shabaab militants against Kenyan forces before his capture in December 2015. He is also accused of providing material support to al Shabaab and receiving training from the group.[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants launched multiple attacks on El Buur airfield in Somalia’s Galguduud region, but government forces reportedly repelled the attacks.[7]
[1] “Violent clashes with al Qaeda in Wadi Hadramawt,” Khabar News Agency, January 13, 2016,
“Al Qaeda prepares to expand in Hadramawt,” al Akhbar, January 13, 2016,
Pro-ISIS Twitter accounts, December 2015, sources available upon request.
[2] “Yemen: Houthis Endangered School for Blind,” Human Rights Watch, January 13, 2016,
Samuel Oakford, “The Saudi Coalition bombed a rehabilitation center for blind people in Yemen,” VICE News, January 5, 2016,
[3] “Ten Yemeni Guantanamo detainees arrive in Oman,” Reuters, January 14, 2016,
[4] “Six Al-Shabaab fighters arrested in security swoop in S. Somalia” Bar-kulan News, January 14, 2016,
[5] “Kenya steps up security along border with Somalia” Xinhua Africa via Hiiraan News, January 14, 2016,
[6] “Maryland Man Pleads Not Guilty to Terrorism-Support Charges in New York” Hiiraan News, January 14, 2016,
[7] “Official: Several militants killed in firefight near Elbur airport” Shabelle News, January 14, 2016,
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