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: Tribal leaders give al Qaeda-linked forces 24 hours to withdraw from Yemeni town; Aden intelligence chief nearly assassinated; general’s home attacked by unknown gunmen; al Qaeda commander Tareq al Dhahab says he will withdraw if conditions met; Yemeni forces surround Rada’a; former CIA head warns that Awlaki killing has not impacted AQAP's operations; two al Houthi fighters killed in combat with government forces in Sa'ada governorate

Horn of Africa: Four killed in fighting between Kenyan troops and al Shabaab militants in Gedo; fighting erupts between al Shabaab and the Shabelle Valley Administration west of Beledweyne; five killed in TFG-al Shabaab fighting in Lower Jubba region; Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama'a urges TFG to leave Galgudud

Yemen Security Brief

  • Tribal leaders in al Bayda have given al Qaeda-linked forces in Rada’a 24 hours to withdraw. They also accused President Ali Abdullah Saleh of being complicit in the town’s capture by the forces, which occurred the night of January 14.[1]
  • A Yemeni security official announced that the intelligence chief of Aden, General Ghazi Ahmed Ali, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. Unknown assailants shot at him as he left work on January 17; two people in his entourage were injured and hospitalized. This is the third assassination attempt on General Ali.[2]
  • Unknown gunmen attacked the house of General Hamid Alsumli, commander of the 119th Brigade in Bayhan directorate, in Shabwah governorate. Local sources suspected al Qaeda involvement and indicated that Bayhan has seen increased militant movement from Azzan, in Shabwah, which is under the control of al Qaeda-linked forces.[3]
  • Tareq al Dhahab’s brother, Qaid, told the Yemeni paper Masdar Online that the group wants “the application of God’s law and the release of all Islamic prisoners.” He referred to the National Reconciliation Government as “Jewish.” Tareq al Dhahab lowered his group’s requirements: he would withdraw from Rada’a if 15 al Qaeda prisoners, including his brother Nabil, were released from prison. One unnamed tribal leader called Dhahab’s conditions for withdrawal “prohibitive,” adding that Dhahab had demanded the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and the application of shari'a.[4]
  • A Yemeni Interior Ministry representative said on January 17 that Republican Guard forces have surrounded Rada’a, waiting for the order to retake the city.[5]
  • Former acting director of the CIA John McLaughlin said on January 17 that the killing of Anwar al Awlaki in a drone strike last September has had little impact on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) operations. He believes that AQAP controls or has influence in half of the Yemeni state.[6]
  • Two al Houthi fighters were killed in combat against government forces in Sa’ada governorate. They had seized control of a major highway that they believe is being used by Saudi Arabia to arm Salafists; the casualties occurred when the Yemeni soldiers tried to wrest control of the road from the al Houthis.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Four people were killed and seven wounded in combat between Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) troops and al Shabaab in Somalia’s Gedo region. The combat was initiated by al Shabaab in an ambush attempt on a KDF convoy.[8]
  • Heavy fighting broke out between al Shabaab and forces of the Shabelle Valley Administration west of Beledweyne, the town captured by the Ethiopian military in late December. At least four al Shabaab fighters and one Shabelle Valley soldier were reported killed.[9]
  • At least five people were killed in combat between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, backed by Kenyan troops, and al Shabaab in Qoqani, in the Lower Jubba Region. The fighting began after an al Shabaab attack on a TFG military base in Qoqani.[10]
  • In an interview with Somalia Report, Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) spokesman Mohamed Hussein said that his group is very suspicious of the TFG, believing that it seeks to destabilize the country. He insists that TFG forces stay out of areas under Ahlu Sunna control, and the group has already urged TFG officials to leave Galgudud, in central Somalia.[11]  

[1] “Local Tribal Chiefs Give al-Qaeda 24 Hours to Leave Yemeni Town,” Yemen Post, January 18, 2012. Available:
[3] “Unknown Persons Attack the Home of the Commander of the 119th Brigade in Bayhan in Shabwa in the Midst of Increased Militant Activity,” al Masdar Online, January 18, 2012. Available:
[4] “Brother of Tariq al Zahab Speaks to Al Masdar Online About the Militant Group’s Demands and its Relations with al Qaeda and Saleh’s Regime, and Announces His Brother Khaled’s Innocence,” al Masdar Online, January 18, 2012. Available:
"Al Qaeda’s Demands to Quit Yemeni Town ‘Prohibitive’,” AFP/NOW Lebanon, January 18, 2012. Available:
[5] “Interior Ministry Representative:  Security Forces Surround Areas Controlled by al Qaeda in Rada’a and the Decision to Attack is in the Hands of the Military Committee,” al Masdar Online, January 17, 2012. Available:
[6] Mike M. Ahlers, “Former CIA Chief: Military is ‘Bad Option’ Against Iran,” CNN, January 17, 2012. Available:
[7] Mohammed Ghobari, “Yemen Islamists Say to Quit Town if Prisoners Freed,” Reuters, January 18, 2012. Available:
[8] “4 Killed, 7 Wounded in Southwestern Somalia Battle,” Shabelle News, January 18, 2012. Availabe:
[9] “Fighting Erupts in Belet-weyn Town,” Shabelle News, January 18, 2012. Available:
[10] “Battle Erupts in Lower Jubba Region,” Shabelle News, January 18, 2012. Available:
[11] Ismail Hassan, “ASWJ wants TFG to Leave Galgudud,” Somalia Report, January 18, 2012. Available:
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