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: Hadi government forces arrest al Houthi cell in southern Yemen; Jordan agrees to host meeting on prisoner exchange; al Houthi forces fire ballistic missile at Saudi troops in Najran, southern Saudi Arabia; Islamic State and AQAP militants exchange attacks in al Bayda governorate

Horn of Africa:  Al Shabaab militants seize hotel complex in Nairobi; likely al Shabaab militants detonate VBIED in Mogadishu; Somali Parliament approves legislation to permit foreign Central Bank governor; Sudanese security forces arrest 28 journalists

Yemen Security Brief

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Interior Ministry Editor's NoteAn official read out of the Interior Minister's press conference from the Hadi government and Saudi government did not include a reference to the cell's involvement in the drone attack on al Anad. Summaries of the conference by regional news outlets reported that the Interior Minister stated the cell was connected to the attack.announced on January 15 that it has arrested an al Houthi cell responsible for the drone attack on al Anad airbase in Lahij governorate, southern Yemen on January 10. The cell collected information on the movement and security of military commanders, according to Lahij Director of Security Saleh al Sayed. Al Arabiya reported that a senior Hadi government military officer was among the arrested. Interior Minister Ahmed al Misri also stated that members of the cell admitted they were responsible for assassinations and bombings in Aden.[1]

The Jordanian government agreed on January 15 to host a meeting between President Hadi’s government and the al Houthi movement to discuss the terms of the prisoner exchange agreement. The Hadi government and al Houthi movement agreed to exchange thousands of prisoners in December.[2]

Al Houthi militants fired a Badr 1P ballistic missile at Saudi troops west of Bir Askar city, Najran region, southern Saudi Arabia. Official Saudi sources have not confirmed the attack.[3]

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed its militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) vehicle in Dhi Kalib area, northwestern al Bayda governorate, central Yemen on January 13. AQAP militants detonated an IED targeting Islamic State militants on a motorcycle and shot a separate militant in northwestern al Bayda governorate on January 13, according to an al Qaeda-affiliated Telegram account. An AQAP sniper also killed an Islamic State militant in northwestern al Bayda governorate on January 14.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab militants seized the DustiD2 Hotel in Westland district, Nairobi city, Kenya on January 15. Al Shabaab militants detonated explosives outside the hotel and one militant detonated a suicide vest inside the hotel’s lobby. Militants then attacked the hotel with small arms and seized it. Kenyan security forces are attempting to clear the hotel complex. Kenyan police discovered and destroyed an undetonated vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at the scene.[5]

Likely al Shabaab militants detonated a VBIED outside a restaurant in Mogadishu city on January 14. The attack occurred near Banadir junction and injured two people.[6]

The Somali Parliament approved legislation to permit foreigners to serve as the governor of the Central Bank on January 14. The position had been previously limited to Somali citizens.[7]

Sudanese security forces arrested 28 Sudanese journalists protesting against censorship in front of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) headquarters in Khartoum, Khartoum state, Sudan on January 14.[8]

[1] “Yemeni Interior Ministry: Houthi cell involved in Anad air base attack caught,” Al Arabiya, January 15, 2019,; and “Yemen announce it had detected an al Houthi terrorist cell works in Aden and Lahij,” Erem News, January 15, 2019,

[2] “Jordan to host UN-sponsored Yemen peace talks,” Al Arabiya, January 15, 2019,; and “Jordan agrees to host Yemen consultations,” Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 15, 2019,

[3] “Ballistic missile Badr 1P fired at the invaders and the mercenaries west of Bir Askar, Najran region,” Saba News, January 14, 2019,

[4] “Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, January 13, 2019,; and al Qaeda-affiliated channel reports AQAP militants attack Islamic State members in Qayfa, northwestern al Bayda governorate. Telegram, January 15, 2019.

[5]Joseph Mwihia, “Extremists attack hotel in Nairobi; al-Shabab claims role,” Associated Press, January 15, 2019,; Jason Burke, “Nairobi attack: hotel complex hit by gunfire and explosions,” The Guardian, January 15, 2019,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, January 15, 2019,; Mohammed Yusuf, “3 to Stand Trial for Alleged Role in Kenya's Westgate Mall Attack,” VOA, January 14, 2019,; and “‘Terror attack’ unfolding at Kenyan luxury hotel complex in Nairobi,” ITV, January 15, 2019,

[6] “Car bomb outside popular restaurant in Mogadishu injures two,” Radio Shabelle, January 14, 2019,

[7] Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, “Somalia can now appoint foreigner as central bank governor,” Africa News, January 14, 2019,

[8] “Sudan’s NISS steps up harassment of media again,” Reporters Without Borders, January 14, 2019,

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