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: Gunmen kill deputy security chief of Dhamar governorate; AQAP paid 6 million Riyals for three Western hostages; President Hadi reveals involvement of senior Yemeni officials in weapons trafficking; special helicopter unit assigned to protect roads from Sana’a to neighboring governorates; police commander involved in weapons smuggling case killed by poison; demonstrators expel governor of Raymah governorate; protesters storm Ibb governorate offices; Southern Civil Democratic Rally announces participation in National Dialogue; Yemeni interior minister discusses joint security cooperation with German envoy

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab announces execution of Denis Allex; Puntland forces attack al Shabaab positions in the Galgala Mountains; al Shabaab ambushes AMISOM troops in Lego, Bay region; two Somali soldiers are executed in Mogadishu; Ethiopian court sentences 10 terrorists to prison; Somali president meets with U.S. congressional members in Washington, D.C.; al Shabaab releases video of its members providing camels and livestock to needy families; Kenya-based MYC comments on conflict between al Shabaab and Omar Hammami

Yemen Security Brief

  • Gunmen killed the deputy security chief of Dhamar governorate, Brigadier General Abdullah al Mushki, on January 16 near Sana’a street in central Dhamar city. The two unidentified gunmen fired upon Brigadier General al Mushki from motorcycles, then fled the scene.[1]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) reportedly paid 6 million Yemeni Riyals, or approximately $28,000 USD, to tribesmen before taking custody of the three Western hostages kidnapped on December 21, 2012 in Sana’a, according to tribal mediators on January 15. The transaction took place in Rada’a district, al Bayda governorate.[2]
  • President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi revealed the involvement of senior Yemeni officials in weapons trafficking during a meeting with members of the transitional government and the Yemeni Parliament in the Presidential Palace in Sana’a on January 16, according to parliamentary sources. Further details about the announcement have not been published.[3]
  • Yemeni officials announced that a special helicopter unit will be assigned to protect roads linking Sana’a to neighboring governorates. The announcement came on January 16 in a meeting between the governor of Sana’a governorate, Abdulghani Hafethallah Jameel, and the commander of the Yemeni Air Force, Staff Major General Rashid Nasser al Janad.[4]
  • Lieutenant Ghalib al Hosni, a commander of a police checkpoint in al Hudaydah governorate, was killed in a suspected poisoning on January 16. Lieutenant al Hosni was involved with last month’s seizure of weapons from Turkey.[5]
  • Demonstrators expelled the governor of Raymah governorate, Ali Salem al Khadmi, from his office in al Jabin, the governorate’s capital, on January 15. Dozens of gunmen loyal to Khadmi were later spotted in the streets of al Jabin. Protesters have been demonstrating against the governor for the last three weeks, due to allegations of corruption.[6]
  • Dozens of protesters stormed the Ibb governorate office after a protest in front of the governorate building. The demonstrators are employees of Ibb’s Mothers’ and Childrens’ Hospital, and are demanding a new hospital director.[7]
  • The Southern Civil Democratic Rally announced its participation in the National Dialogue Conference during a meeting on January 15 with President Hadi.[8]
  • The Yemeni Interior Minister Major General Abdul Qadir Qahtan discussed security cooperation measures and the implementation of the Gulf Initiative with German envoy Peter Schulz on January 15 in Sana’a.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab executed its French hostage Denis Allex on January 16. In a statement posted to its twitter account, al Shabaab said the decision to execute comes “after three years of exhaustive attempts at negotiations.” The French government still asserts that Allex died during the rescue operation on January 12.[10]
  • Puntland forces launched a surprise attack against al Shabaab positions in the Galgala Mountains on January 15. A Puntland official said the militants fled and Puntland troops captured key areas and killed several al Shabaab fighters.[11]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed AMISOM forces in Lego, Bay region on January 15. AMISOM crossfire killed seven civilians and wounded 14. Casualty numbers for AMISOM and al Shabaab fighters are unknown. AMISOM officials said that they were going to investigate the civilian casualties.[12]
  • Two Somali soldiers sentenced to death in 2012 were executed by a firing squad on January 16 in Mogadishu. One had been found guilty of killing a civilian and the other of raping a girl.[13]
  • An Ethiopian court sentenced ten people to three to twenty years in jail on January 15. Nine men are Ethiopian nationals who were convicted of plotting terrorist attacks in Ethiopia with the help of al Shabaab militants. The tenth man is Kenyan and the Ethiopian court hopes to give him life in prison because he admitted to being a member of al Shabaab.[14]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with a bipartisan committee of 20 U.S. Representatives in Washington, D.C. on January 15. During the meeting they discussed the recent security and economic improvements in Somalia. President Mohamud also urged the congressional leaders to open a U.S. embassy in Mogadishu.[15]
  • Al Shabaab released a video on January 13 showing its members giving camels, cattle and sheep to needy families in the Jubba region.[16]
  • The Kenya-based Muslim Youth Center (MYC) posted a message on its blog on January 12 commenting on the controversy between al Shabaab and Omar Hammami. MYC sided with al Shabaab, saying that Hammami was publicly denouncing al Shabaab as a way to increase his notoriety.[17]    

[1] “Gunmen kill security official south of Yemen’s Sana’a,” Reuters, January 16, 2013. Available:
“Assassination of Security Officer in Dhamar,” al Ahale, January 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Al Qaeda Assassinates Important Officer in Yemeni Interior Ministry,” al Wefaq Press, January 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Sources: Al Qaida Paid 6 Million to Tribesmen in Exchange for 3 Western Abductees,” al Masdar Online, January 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “President Hadi Uncovers Involvement of Senior Officials, Security Leaders, Sheikhs in Weapons Trafficking,” al Ahale, January 16, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Air Force Designates Helicopters to Observe and Protect Sada’a Governorate Main Roads,” Saba News, January 16 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Yemen: Assassination by Poison of Officer Who Uncovered Shipment of Smuggled Turkish Weapons ,” Yemen Voice, January 16 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Protestors Expel Governor of Raymah and Pelt his Car with Stones,” al Masdar Online, January 15 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Angry Demonstrators Storm Ibb Governorate Offices,” Barakish Net, January 16 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Southern Civil Democratic Rally Announces its Participation in Dialogue Conference,” News Yemen, January 15 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Talks about Security Cooperation between Germany and Yemen,” Saba News, January 16 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Somali Islamist Rebels Sentence French Hostage to Death,” Reuters, January 16, 2013. Available:
“Shabaab Announces Execution of French Hostage Denis Allex,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 16, 2013. Available at SITE.
[11] “Somalia: Puntland Begins Military Operation Against al Shabaab in Galgala,” Garowe Online, January 15, 2013. Available:
[12] “AMISOM Soldiers Were Killed Civilians near Lego livelihood in Bay region,” Kulmiye News, January 15, 2013. Available:
“AMISOM to Investigate Leggo Incident,” Bar Kulan, January 16, 2013. Available:
[13] “Somalia Executes Two Soldiers for Murder, Rape,” Bar Kulan, January 16, 2013. Available:
[14] “Ethiopia Jails 10 For Plotting Attacks with Somali Islamists,” Reuters, January 15, 2013. Available:
[15] “Somalia President Meets Members of U.S. Congress,” Bartamaha, January 16, 2013. Available:
“President Mohamud Asks US to Reopen its Embassy in Mogadishu,” Bar Kulan, January 16, 2013. Available:
[16] “Shabaab Video Shows Distribution of Camels, Livestock for Charity,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 15, 2013. Available at SITE.
[17] “MYC Comments on Hammami-Shabaab Controversy,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 12, 2013. Available at SITE.
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