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 forces attack al Qaeda positions in al Manaseh, al Bayda governorate after failure of negotiations with al Dhahab brothers to release Western hostages; jihadist posts audio clips attributed to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; car bomb at Yemeni Army checkpoint in Rada’a, al Bayda governorate; two bombs target military convoys in Rada’a, al Bayda governorate; UN Security Council meets in Sana’a amid protests; pro-Southern secession protests in Aden; popular committees in Zinjibar help quash mutiny of police officers; AQAP in Abyan reportedly receives arms from popular committee sheikhs; President Hadi says Southern Movement will participate in National Dialogue; Yemeni hostage released after tribal negotiations; dozens protest by flying al Qaeda flag in front of President Hadi’s home

Horn of Africa: British government reissues travel warning for Somalia and Somaliland; unknown gunmen attack a vehicle headed for Baidoa, Bay region; Somali government forces conduct security operations in Hodan district, Mogadishu; Hiraan region plans to train local militias for Somali army; Somali president attends African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Somali defense minister and interior and national security minister travel to Baidoa, Bay region; Somali prime minster meets with Italian envoy in Mogadishu; South Sudan extradites murderer to Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni forces under Major General Mohammed Ali al Maqdashi based in Rada’a launched an offensive against al Qaeda in al Manaseh, al Bayda governorate on January 27, after militants, suspected of holding one Austrian and two Finns hostage, refused to surrender to government forces. The militants are reported to be three brothers of deceased Yemeni al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Tareq al Dhahab, Sheikh Abdullah al Dhahab, Abdul Raoof al Dhahab and Nabil al Dhahab. So far, three militants and at least one soldier have been killed in the operation, and at least three soldiers have been wounded.[1]
  • Abdullah bin Muhammad, a prominent jihadist, tweeted three audio clips attributed to AQAP on January 26. The recordings denied that AQAP intended to form a political party and rejected reports that the Yemeni army had seized al Mahfad district in Abyan governorate.[2]
  • A suicide car bomber targeted a checkpoint at the entrance to Rada’a city, Bayda governorate on January 28, killing between eight and eleven Yemeni soldiers and wounding ten. It is suspected that the attack came in retaliation for the army operation in nearby al Manaseh.[3]
  • Two bombs exploded in Rada’a, al Bayda governorate on January 27, reportedly targeting a military convoy. No one was wounded.[4]
  • A UN Security Council delegation met in Sana'a, Yemen on January 27 with Yemeni stakeholders, including President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and other Yemeni officials to discuss implementation of the Gulf Initiative. Simultaneous to this, thousands of demonstrators protested in Sana’a, calling for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s trial and the return of monies stolen by Saleh from the Yemeni treasury.[5]
  • Tens of thousands of pro-Southern Movement protesters demonstrated in Aden on January 27 and 28, calling for an independent South Yemen and refusing participation in the National Dialogue Conference.[6]
  • Popular committees in conjunction with Central Security Forces in Zinjibar, Abyan governorate helped quash an uprising by rescue police officers who attempted to occupy the city’s police headquarters and prevent the police commander, Colonel Riad Mujhir, from entering on January 28. A number of police officers were arrested in the incident.[7]
  • AQAP in Abyan governorate received arms and ammunition via the popular committees in Abyan, according to a report in Barakish Net on January 28. According to the source, sheikhs related to the popular committee requested arms and ammunition for soldiers on the committee’s roster and sold the materials to AQAP in Abyan.[8]
  • President Hadi said on January 27 that the Southern Movement will attend the National Dialogue, claiming that the Southern issue was an issue of “fairness.”[9]
  • Yemeni hostage Mohammad Nasser al Maghrebi was released by the ‘Ans tribe on January 28 after one year and three months of captivity. Al Maghrebi was released in exchange for the completion of development projects promised to the tribe under the regime of former President Saleh.[10]
  • Dozens of demonstrators from the “Dignity Organization” and “Rescue Party” protested in front of the Presidential Palace in Sana’a on January 28, advocating a cessation of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen. Significantly, the protesters were flying al Qaeda’s black flag – reportedly the first instance of its use in a demonstration in Sana’a.[11]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The British government reissued a travel warning for Somalia on January 27, specifically noting that all British citizens living in Somaliland should leave. The British Foreign Office said they received intelligence of a specific threat to westerners in Somaliland.[12] 
  • Unknown gunmen attacked a truck traveling between Lego and Burhakaba, Bay region on January 27. Two women were killed and six other passengers were injured. The shooters were able to flee the scene and have not yet been caught.[13]
  • Somali government troops conducted security operations in the Hodan district of Mogadishu on January 28. Around 200 people were arrested during the searches targeting al Shabaab militants and sympathizers.[14]
  • Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attended the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 27.[15]
  • Somali Minister of Defense Abdihakim Mohamud Haji Fiqi and Somali Interior and National Security Minister Abdikarin Hussein Guled traveled to Baidoa, Bay region on January 28. The delegation, which met with local and AMISOM leaders, was there to assess the security situation in the city.[16]
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon met with Italian envoy to Somalia, Andrea Mazella, on January 28 in Mogadishu. The two men discussed strengthening the relationship between their countries as well as Italy’s role in rebuilding Somalia.[17]
  • South Sudan extradited a man to Somalia who killed someone in Mogadishu before leaving the country. Somali investigators tracked the murderer to Juba, South Sudan and South Sudanese authorities returned him to Somalia for trial.[18]     

[1] “Breaking: One Soldier Killed and Three Wounded After Troops Advance Toward Al Qaeda Headquarters in al Manaseh, Rada’a,” Barakish Net, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Yemeni Forces Kill 3 in Hostage Release Bid,” AFP, January 28 2013. Available:
“Breaking: al Qaeda Refuses Army Offer to Release Abductees and Vows Armed Confrontation,” Barakish Net, January 27, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Tribal Commission Continues Mediation Efforts in Rada’a, and al Dhahab Imposes Conditions and Denies Possession of 3 Western Hostages,” al Masdar Online, January 26, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “AQAP Denies Forming Political Party, Calls Oil Deals ‘Non-Binding,’” SITE Intel Group, January 27, 2013. Available:
[3] “Eight Soldiers Killed in Yemen Car Bomb Attack,” Reuters, January 28, 2013. Available:
“Breaking: Killed and Wounded in Car Bomb Explosion at Military Checkpoint at Entrance to Rada’a,” Barakish, January 28, 2013. Available:
Ahmed al Haj, “11 Yemen Soldiers Killed in Car Bombing,” AP, January 29, 2013. Available:
[4] “Military Campaign Begins Attack on Militant Strongholds in al Bayda; Authorities Accuse Militants of Being Linked with al Qaeda,” al Masdar Online, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “UN Security Council delegation in Sana’a,” Saba News, January 27, 2013. Available:
“UN Backs Yemen Transition, Thousands Protest Saleh Immunity,” AFP, January 27, 2013. Available:
[6] “AFP: Tens of Thousands Protest in Aden Against Unity,” Al Omanaa, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[7] “Popular Committees Suppress Rescue Police Insurgency in Zinjibar,” Aden al Ghad, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
“Clashes between the Central Security Forces and the Rescue Police Forces in Abyan While Other Regions Witness Complete Lack of Security,” Mareb Press, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[8] “Al Qaeda in Abyan Receives Quantities of Arms and Ammunition,” Barakish Net, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[9] “Hadi Says that the Southern Movement will Participate in the National Dialogue to Solve the Southern Issue ‘Justly,’” al Masdar Online, January 27, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[10] “Tribal Mediation Succeeds in Releasing Citizen Kidnapped by Tribe and Held for 1.5 Years,” Yemen Press, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[11] “Al Qaeda Flag Flown in Front of Home of President in Sana’a,” Barakish Net, January 28, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[12] “Britons Warned of Somaliland Threat,” BBC, January 27, 2013. Available:
“Somalia Travel Summary,” British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, January 27, 2013. Available:
[13] “Two Killed After Gunmen Attack Passenger Truck,” Bar Kulan, January 28, 2013. Available:
[14] “Government Forces Operates at Hodan District with Reported Civilian Arrests,” Kulmiye News, January 28, 2013. Available:
[15] “Somalia President Calls for Lifting of Arms Embargo at African Union Summit,” Garowe, January 27, 2013. Available:
“African Leaders Meet in Addis Ababa,” Bar Kulan, January 27, 2013. Available:
[16] “Ministers Visit Baidoa, Bay Region,” January 28, 2013. Available:
[17] “PM Shirdon Meets Italian Envoy in Somalia,” Bar Kulan, January 28, 2013. Available:
[18] “South Sudan Extradites A Murderer to Somalia,” January 27, 2013. Available:
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