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: Kidnapped Norwegian UN worker released; fighting in north Yemen kills at least 22 people; Ansar al Sharia’s commander in Zinjibar explains his organization’s goals in interview

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab executes teenagers accused of spying; al Shabaab praises January 24 suicide bombing in Beledweyne

Yemen Security Brief

  • The Norwegian Foreign Minister announced the release of a Norwegian UN worker, who was kidnapped by tribesmen in Sana’a on January 15 and taken to Ma’rib governorate. The tribesmen had demanded the release of one of their men.[1]
  • On January 26, at least 22 people were killed in fighting between al Houthi rebels and Salafists in the Kitaf district of Sa’ada governorate, as well as in Hajjah governorate. The combat was initiated by a Salafist attack. An al Houthi spokesman explained, "We blocked the attack in under an hour and 13 people died in Hajja and nine in Kitaf.”[2]
  • Journalists from news agency Hayat Aden (Aden Life) interviewed the commander of Ansar al Sharia in Zinjibar, Jalal Muhsin Saleh Bal’idi al Marqishi, also known as Abu Hamza. Abu Hamza denies any connection whatsoever between his organization and the Saleh regime: “The regime is continuing in its war and dealing with the Americans against us, so how can you join together two opposites?” He also refused to comment on Ansar al Sharia’s relationship with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He said that his organization and the peaceful protesters agree on the end, if not the means: he wants “the ouster of the regime like what happened in Libya.” He explained how his organization pumped water and delivered electricity to the people of Jaar, which he refers to as the Waqar Emirate. Jaar also has a court that applies shari’a and its education system “is better than in the main provinces.” He called upon the people of Abyan governorate to join the mujahideen in their quest to install shari’a.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab executed three Somali teenagers in the town of Masagaway, between Galgudud and Middle Shabelle regions. At least one of the teenagers was beheaded. The teenagers were accused of spying for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).[4]
  • Al Shabaab released a statement praising the “martyrdom” operation of Muhammad Abdi Hassan, the perpetrator of the January 24 suicide bombing of the Ethiopian military base in Beledweyne.[5]

[1] “Norway: Kidnapped Norwegian UN Worker Released in Yemen,” AP, January 27, 2012. Available:
[2] “Sectarian Clashes Kill At Least 22 in Yemen,” Reuters, January 26, 2012. Available: “Source: 22 Killed in Clashes Between al Houthis and Salafists in Hajjah and Saada,” al Masdar Online, January 26, 2012. Available:
[3] “Yemeni News Agency Interviews Ansar al-Shariah Leader in Zinjibar,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 26, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] “Al-Shabab Beheads Three Civiliians in Southern Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, January 27, 2012. Available:
[5] “Al-Kata’ib Media Presents New Statement from Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahidin: ‘Martyrdom Operation on the Largest Headquarters of the Ethiopian Forces in Beledweyne,’” Jihadology, January 27, 2012. Available:
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