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: UN envoy to Yemen confirms that UN monitoring team leader will resign; President Hadi announces new head of military intelligence; AQAP releases new video in series on espionage; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthi troops in Hajjah governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Qaeda General Command congratulates al Shabaab and JNIM for conducting attacks in the name of combating Israel; IED explosion in Nairobi injures two; SNA and AMISOM troops kill senior al Shabaab official near Jalalaqsi; al Shabaab ambushes Islamic State fighters near Boosaaso; al Shabaab ambushes Djibouti AMISOM convoy near Buraan

Yemen Security Brief

UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths stated that UN monitoring team leader Patrick Cammaert will resign in an interview on January 28. Griffiths stated that Cammaert planned to stay in the role for a short period to support the initial steps of the Stockholm Agreement and his resignation is not related to any disagreements. Griffiths also stated that both parties are committed to the agreement but that the timelines of the Stockholm Agreement will be extended to accommodate the complex situation on the ground.[1]

President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed Major General Ahmed al Yafi as the new head of military intelligence on January 28. Yafi replaced General Mohammed Tamah, who died in the al Houthi movement drone attack on al Anad air base in Lahij governorate, southern Yemen, on January 10.[2]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the second episode in its series intended to teach its members how intelligence agencies recruit spies on January 25. The over 98-minute-long video, titled “Demolishing of the Espionage,” features statements from AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi and senior AQAP official Khalid Batarfi. The video states that intelligence agencies target members that are not truly religious, who seek money, and who place self-advancement over the Muslim community. The video also claims that recruiters filmed acts of rape and sexual abuse in order to blackmail AQAP members into becoming spies.[3]                                                   

The Saudi-led coalition launched 23 air strikes against al Houthi troops near Hajoor tribal areas in Hajjah governorate, northern Yemen, on January 26-27. The Hajoor tribe appealed for support from the coalition after al Houthi militants increased attacks on their villages on January 24.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Qaeda General Command praised recent attacks by al Shabaab and Jama’a Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen (JNIM) carried out in the name of the “Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized” campaign on January 27. The message congratulated al Shabaab for its January 15 attack on the DustiD2 Hotel complex in Nairobi Kenya and JNIM for its January 20 attack on Chadian troops in northern Mali.[5]

An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near a cinema in Nairobi, Kenya on January 26. A man hired a porter to push his luggage, which later exploded after the man left the scene. The explosion injured two civilians.[6]

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) forces killed a senior al Shabaab official in a joint operation near Jalalaqsi, Hiraan region, central Somalia on January 27. SNA and AMISOM also burned al Shabaab’s vehicles. Two SNA soldiers sustained injuries during the operation.[7]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed Islamic State fighters near Boosaaso city, Puntland, northern Somalia on January 28. Al Shabaab and Islamic State militants clashed for an hour after the ambush.[8]

Al Shabaab militants ambushed a Djiboutian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military convoy near Buraan village, Middle Shabelle region, southern Somalia on January 26. The number of casualties is unknown.[9]

Visit our Kenya, Mali, and Somalia storystreams.

[1] “Griffiths to Asharq al Awsat: No element of truth to reports of disagreements with Cammaert,” Asharq al Awsat, January 28, 2019,; and “Griffiths to Asharq al Awsat: We are proceeding with our work for the full implementation of the Stockholm agreement,” OSESGY, January 28, 2019,

[2] Mina Aldroubi, “Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appoints new intelligence chief,” The National, January 28, 2019,

[3] “2nd Episode of AQAP’s ‘Demolishing of the Espionage’ series explores recruitment of spies, features alleged audio of U.S. intel agent,” SITE Intelligence, January 26, 2019, available at

[4] “Arab Coalition steps up airstrikes targeting Houthi gatherings in Yemen,” al Arabiya, January 28, 2019,

[5]“Al Qaeda Central Lauds JINIM and Shabaab attacks in name of “Jerusalem will never be Judaized,” Site Intelligence Group, January 28, 2019. English translation available by subscription at

[6] "Blast near cinema in downtown Nairobi injures two," Reuters, January 26, 2019,'; "At least two injured in Nairobi explosion," Radio Shabelle, January 26, 2019,

[7] “Somalia, AU troops carry out a joint operation in Central Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, January 28, 2019,

[8] “Heavy fighting erupts as al Shabaab clash with Islamic State in Somalia,” Mareeg, January 28, 2019,

[9] “Al Shabaab ambushed Djibouti’s military convoy in Somalia,” Radio Shabelle, January 27, 2019,

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