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: ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan detonates SVBIED near presidential palace in Aden; Taiz kidnappers release Al Jazeera team; Ansar al Sharia claims attacks on al Houthis in al Bayda, Ibb, and Taiz; resistance leader mobilizes forces from Aden to Taiz; Hadi’s National Security chief resigns

Horn of Africa: AMISOM and SNA troops attack al Shabaab roadblock in Galgaduud region, Somalia; Mogadishu residents demonstrate against al Shabaab near Liido Beach, Somalia; al Shabaab releases recruitment video; AMISOM trains Somali Police Force recruits in Bay region, Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • An Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) outside Ma’ashiq Palace, the residence of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in Aden on January 28. The blast killed at least seven and wounded at least ten. The attack targeted the convoy of Aden governor Aydarus al Zubaidi, which was traveling toward the palace, according to reports. ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan claimed credit for the attack and named the attacker, a Dutch militant named Abu Khanifah al Holandi. This is the first attack claimed by ISIS Wilayat Aden-Abyan this year. The group assassinated the previous Aden governor Jaafar Mohammad Saad on December 6.[1]
  • Al Jazeera announced the release of its journalist Hamdi al Bokari and two crewmembers on January 28 following their abduction in Taiz city last week. The news service did not identify their abductors or elaborate on the details of their release. However, Al Jazeera’s Yemen Bureau Chief, Saeed Thabit, stated that the abductors were members of the al Houthi movement in a post on his Facebook page. If confirmed, the abduction would mark the latest in a long series of kidnappings attributed to al Houthi rebels. Activists recently launched a campaign on social media calling for the release of an estimated 2,478 individuals detained or abducted by fighters linked to the al Houthis.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)’s insurgent arm Ansar al Sharia claimed thirteen direct fire, mortar, and explosive attacks on al Houthi targets in central Yemen between January 18 and January 28. The group conducted nine attacks in al Bayda governorate, including an ambush that reportedly killed an al Houthi commander on January 23. AQAP also claimed two attacks in Taiz city and two in Ibb governorate.[3]
  • Sheikh Hamoud Saeed al Mikhlafi, leader of anti-al Houthi popular resistance forces in Taiz governorate, left Aden with a large military force bound for Taiz city on January 28. Al Mikhlafi thanked Prime Minister Khaled Bahah for the government’s support at a press conference earlier in the day. Sheikh al Mikhlafi has been fighting to break the al Houthi-Saleh siege on Taiz city since April 2015.[4]
  • The head of Yemen’s National Security Bureau resigned on January 28, citing the Hadi government’s disregard for his demands. Brigadier General Ali Hassan al Ahmadi cited the government’s failure to grant his requests for even basic capabilities and to take steps to secure the temporary capital of Aden, which has witnessed a series of assassinations and other attacks. President Hadi has not yet accepted the resignation. [5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops attacked and killed six al Shabaab militants at a roadblock between the villages of El May and El Bur in Galgaduud region, central Somalia on January 28.  The militants reportedly used the checkpoint to tax passing public transportation vehicles.[6] 
  • Residents of the Somali capital of Mogadishu led an anti-al Shabaab rally near Liido Beach on January 28. The demonstration was a response to al Shabaab’s January 21 attack on Liido Beach hotels and restaurants, which killed at least 17people.[7]
  • Al Shabaab released a new recruitment video entitled “Mujahideen Moments #9” on January 28.  The video, which is subtitled in English, features al Shabaab militants fishing and singing and calls for Muslims to make hijrah to Somalia and join the group.[8] 
  • The AMISOM Police Component began the training of a new class of Somali Police Force (SPF) in Baidoa, Bay region, Somalia.  The class will be the second trained by AMISOM in Somalia’s Interim Southwestern Administration (ISWA) and contains approximately 200 recruits.[9] 
[1] “Suicide car bomb detonates outside Yemeni presidential residence of [sic] in Aden – official says,” Reuters, January 28, 2016,
Saeed Al Batati, “Aden governor targeted in suicide blast,” Gulf News, January 28, 2016,
“Martyrdom operation demolishes the presidential palace (al Ma’ashiq), the residence of the tyrant in Aden,” Islamic State Wilayat Aden-Abyan, January 28, 2016, source available upon request. 
[2] Asa Fitch, “Kidnapped Al Jazeera Journalists Freed in War-Torn Yemen,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2016,
“Release of Al Jazeera and Al Masdar Online correspondents Hamdi al Bokari and Abdulaziz al Sabri .. and their captors, al Houthis,” Al Masdar, January 28, 2016,
“Yemeni activists launch campaign to free prisoners from Al Houthi jails,” Gulf News, January 26, 2016,  
[3] “AQAP claims bombings, other attacks on Houthis in Al-Bayda’, Ibb, Taiz,” SITE Intelligence Group, source available upon request.
“AQAP claims five attacks on Houthis in Al-Bayda’, Ibb, Taiz,” SITE Intelligence Group, source available upon request.
[4] “Breaking: Sheikh Hamoud al Mikhlafi moves huge military forces toward Taiz,” Yemen Press, January 28, 2016,
[5] “Head of Yemeni National Security Bureau submits his resignation in protest,”, January 28, 2016,
“Hadi’s position on Al Ahmadi’s resignation,”, January 28, 2016,
[6] “Somali And AMISOM Forces Destroy Al-Shabaab Manned Roadblock In Galgadud, Kill Six Fighters,”  Mogadishu Center for Research and Studies, January 28, 2016,
[7] “Mogadishu residents stage rally against Liido beach attack,” Shabelle News, January 28, 2016,
[8] Pro-al Shabaab social media account, source available upon request.
[9] “AMISOM Police Commences Second Phase of Training of Somali Police Force Recruits in Baidoa,” AMISOM Public Affairs, January 27, 2016,  
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