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 assassination of lawyer in Sana’a; explosion hits pipelines in Aden; al Houthis release political prisoners but continue to hold high-profile figures

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab overruns Kenyan AMISOM base in El Adde, Gedo, Somalia; Kenyan officials launch CVE program to counter al Shabaab recruitment; U.S. Marines complete training of Ugandan AMISOM troops

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed credit for the killing of a local lawyer and member of the al Houthi Revolutionary Committee in Sana’a. Ansar al Sharia, AQAP’s insurgent arm, conducted frequent attacks on al Houthi targets in Sana’a in the months following the al Houthis’ takeover of the city in September 2014. Such attacks have grown intermittent as Ansar al Sharia concentrates its efforts in al Bayda, Ibb, and Taiz.[1]
  • An explosion struck two pipelines connecting oil storage facilities to a refinery in Buraiqah district, Aden on January 14. Unconfirmed reports attributed the explosion to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). No casualties have been reported.[2]
  • Al Houthi officials in Sana’a released several political prisoners, including two Saudi citizens and Yemeni Technical Education Minister Abdel Razak al Ashwal, a prominent member of the Salafi al Islah party. Al Houthi sources denied reports that the released prisoners included former Defense Minister Mahmoud al Subayhi, Brigadier General Faysal Rajab, and President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s brother, Nasser Mansour Hadi. The Hadi government has insisted on the release of these three prisoners as a confidence-building measure for further peace talks. The al Houthis have refused to release the prisoners before a comprehensive ceasefire.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked and overran the Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base at El Adde, in Somalia’s Gedo region, killing more than 60 soldiers and capturing an unknown number. The militants are part of the Saleh Nabhan Brigade, named after a senior al Shabaab leader killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2009. Al Shabaab fighters detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at the gates of the base before launching a ground assault. The Kenyan Air Force counterattacked with jets and attack helicopters, which were met with anti-aircraft fire.   The militants later paraded the bodies of soldiers through the streets. Al Shabaab claimed to capture several military vehicles, and local residents said that the group seized large caches of ammunition from the base. Al Shabaab has re-focused its attacks on military bases within the past year, with a particular focus on AMISOM forces.[4] 
  • Local officials in Isiolo County, Kenya launched a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program to counter the radicalization of youths and teenagers.  The Isiolo program, which is part of the broader Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE) initiative, will employ local imams to teach anti-radicalization classes.[5]
  • U.S. Marines from the 6th Combat Logistics Battalion completed the training of Ugandan armed forces in various anti-terror tactics, including counter-IED techniques, urban warfare, and armored vehicle use.  Ugandan forces participate in AMISOM operations against al Shabaab.[6] 
[1] “AQAP claims assassinating revolutionary committee member in Sana’a, Houthi fighters in al-Bayda’,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 14, 2016,
[2] “Blast sparks fire erupts in major oil pipeline in Yemen,” Associated Press, January 15, 2016,
[3] “Yemen's Houthis free detained minister to aid talks: U.N. envoy,” Reuters, January 14, 2016,
“UN Chief Welcomes Release of 2 Saudis Held in Yemen,” Associated Press, January 14, 2016,
[4]Live From Mogadishu (via Twitter), January 15, 2016,
Mursal, “Islamist militants overrun Kenya military base in Southern Somalia as dozens feared dead” Harar24 News, January 15, 2016,
Aislinn Laing, “Bodies of Kenyan soldiers dragged through Somali streets after al-Shabaab attack on base” Telegraph UK, January 15, 2016,  
[5] Vivian Chebet, “Anti-extremism drive launched in Isiolo County” Daily Nation Kenya, January 15, 2016,
[6] Matthew L. Schehl, “Marines train Ugandans to fight Al-Shabaab terror group” Marine Corps Times, January 14, 2016,  
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