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: Yemeni government reports death of Said al Shihri; airstrike in Asnaf region of Sana’a governorate; airstrike in Walad Rabi’a district, al Bayda governorate; negotiations ongoing between Yemeni government and AQAP for release of Western hostages in Walad Rabi’a district, al Bayda governorate; Turkish arms shipment seized in Aden; tribal gunmen fire on car of 119th Brigade commander; security forces deploy in Ataq in Shabwah governorate to curtail weapons in city; Houthi militants arrest member of Executive Office of Islah Party in Sa’ada; southern separatist leaders meet for conference in Cairo

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases video demanding release of all Muslim prisoners in Kenya or Uganda; Kenyan Internal Security Permanent Secretary announces that refugees who do not relocate to camps will be forcibly deported to country of origin; terrorist suspect arrested in Lamu, Kenya suspected to be member of al Shabaab; Intergovernmental Authority on Development solicits proposals from Somali government on its security and political stabilization plan; militias in Beledweyne, Hiraan region begin AMISOM training for integration into Somali security forces; human rights groups call for release of journalist held by Somali government without charges; Kenyan government will hold peace forums in run-up to March election

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Yemeni government news agency reported that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) deputy commander Said al Shihri died from injuries sustained during operations on November 28, 2012 in Sa’ada governorate.[1]
  • An airstrike was reported in Masna’aa village, in the Asnaf region between Khawlan and Sanhan districts in Sana’a governorate on January 23. Various sources claim that the airstrike killed between five and six individuals, of which at least three were believed to AQAP militants of Saudi origin.[2]
  • An airstrike was reported in the Sila al Jarah area of Walad Rabi’a district of al Bayda governorate on January 23. Although the airstrike reportedly targeted three AQAP members, sources claimed that it missed its target and killed three civilians.[3]
  • Negotiations for the release of three foreign hostages are reportedly ongoing in Walad Rabi’a district, al Bayda governorate between AQAP and the Yemeni government through tribal intermediaries. Major General Mohammed Ali al Maqdashi and al Bayda governor Al Thaheri al Shaddadi have threatened to attack AQAP strongholds in the area should negotiations fail. The source named Mohammed Jera’aun and Mohammed al Maflahi and Abdullah al Waaqidi as tribal sheikhs serving as intermediaries, among others.[4]
  • Yemeni authorities seized a shipment of arms from Turkey on January 23 in the Caltex port, Aden. Security sources said that the shipment contained machine guns, handguns, and sniper rifles.[5]
  • Tribal gunmen from Bayhan district fired on the car of Brigadier General Hamed al Somli, commander of Yemen’s 119th Brigade, in Shabwah governorate on January 24. The assassination attempt led to clashes between the tribesmen and the brigade, which responded by shelling the area. It was reported that the tribal gunmen were aggrieved by their lack of a role in the local popular resistance committee.[6]
  • Police, Central Security Forces and military units were deployed in Ataq, Shabwah governorate in a campaign to curtail weapons possession in the city. Security forces were spotted searching vehicles and other means of transport for weapons across the city.[7]
  • Houthi militants arrested a member of the Executive Office of the Islah Party, Faisal Ali al Khalidi, in Sa’ada on January 23. The Islah Party subsequently released a statement condemning the action and calling for the release of the individual, as well as others arrested by the Houthis in the last two days.[8]
  • Prominent Yemeni southern leaders met on January 24 in Egypt, at a conference intended to support a peaceful transition to independence for south Yemen. Individuals participating in this meeting include Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdulhamid al Maflahi, Sheikh Abdul Rab al Naqib, and diplomat Saleh al Jabwani, among others.[9]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab tweeted a video on January 23 demanding that the Kenyan government release all Muslim prisoners held on terrorism charges, and that it secure the release of Muslim prisoners extradited to Uganda, threatening to kill Kenyan prisoners held by al Shabaab if Kenya does not comply by February 14. Kenyan officials responded to the video on January 24, saying that they would not negotiate with al Shabaab.[10]
  • Kenyan Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo announced that refugees who refuse to move to camps in Kenya will be arrested and deported. The Kenyan government has previously told Somali refugees to report to the Dadaab camp, and refugees from other countries to report to the Kakuma camp.[11]
  • A terrorist suspect was arrested on January 22 in Kiunga, Lamu, Kenya carrying over 1.5 million Kenyan shillings, or $17,100 U.S. He is reportedly of Somali origin, and suspected to be a member of al Shabaab.[12]
  • The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) solicited proposals from the Somali government on its security and political stabilization plan, and its request for the UN to lift its arms embargo on Somalia on January 24. It also stressed the need for legitimate local government and security apparatuses in areas previously under the control of al Shabaab, and the need to enhance the AMISOM mandate.[13]
  • Over 1000 militias in Beledweyne, Hiraan region, have begun a 45-day training by AMISOM troops, and will subsequently be re-integrated into Somali government forces.[14]
  • Human rights groups called on the Somali government to release journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, arrested for interviewing a woman who said she was raped by Somali government forces. Three other individuals accused in the matter have also been held by the Somali government for over a week, without having been charged.[15]
  • The Kenyan government will hold twelve peace forums in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya in the run-up to the March general elections, according to an announcement by the Uasin Gishu County Commissioner, Abdi Hassan, in a forum on January 23. Uasin Gishu witnessed significant violence in the 2007-8 Kenyan election cycle.[16]    

[1] “High Military Committee announces death of terrorist Said al Shihri in counter terrorism operations in Sa’ada,” Saba News, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “Locals: Two Civilians Killed and 3 Saudis Suspected of Being Connected with al Qaeda in Air Strike in South Sana’a,” al Masdar Online, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Sources: Airstrikes Miss Their Targets and Hit 3 Civilians and a House in Bayda,” al Masdar Online, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Final Negotiations for the Release of 3 Western Hostages in al Qaeda Custody Before Military Campaign Launches on Rada’a,” al Masdar Online, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Breaking: Sniper Weapons and Handguns in Container of Turkish Arms in the Port of Aden,” Barakish Net, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “119th Brigade Commander Escapes Tribal Gunmen Firing on Him in Protest of Their Role in Popular Committee,” al Masdar Online, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Shabwah: Military and Security Campaign to Prevent Movement of Weapons,” News Yemen, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Houthi Gunmen Arrest a Member of the Executive Office of the Islah Party in Sa’ada,” al Masdar Online, January 23, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Southern Independence Leaders Meet in Cairo,” Barakish Net, January 24, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Somalia al Shabaab Rebels Threaten to Kill Kenyan Hostages,” Reuters, January 23, 2013. Available:
“Kenya: We Will Not Bargain with al Shabaab Over Hostages,” Reuters, January 24, 2013. Available:
[11] “Refugees in Towns Warned of Arrest,” Daily Nation, January 23, 2013. Available:
[12] “Terror Suspect Arrested in Lamu,” The Star, January 23, 2013. Available:
[13] “IGAD Urge Somalia to Draft Detailed Security, Political Stabilization Plans for Deliberations,” Bar Kulan, January 24, 2013. Available:
[14] “Gov’t Forces in Hiran Get Boosted as Militias Get Trained for Reintegration,” Bar Kulan, January 24, 2013. Available:
[15] “Groups Call for Somali Gov’t to Release Journalist,” AP, January 23, 2013. Available:
[16] “Region to Hold Peace Forums Ahead of Polls,” Standard Digital, January 23, 2013. Available:
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