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: Gunmen attack electoral office in Dhaleh; President Saleh’s arrival in U.S. confirmed; five people dead in fighting between al Qaeda-linked militants and Yemeni soldiers in Zinjibar and police officer assassinated in Hadramawt; Ansar al Sharia releases newsletter; bomb explodes in Aden school, wounding seven people; violent clashes between Yemeni soldiers and gunmen in Dhaleh; study warns of more Islamist takeovers in Yemen; explosions reported at First Armored Division Headquarters in Sana’a

Horn of Africa: TFG soldiers targeted in Mogadishu; head of UNPOS Mahiga speaks on AMISOM and KDF strategy against al Shabaab; Ethiopian APC targeted by IED in Beledweyne; al Shabaab claims responsibility over grenade attack on UNDP office in Mogadishu; Shabelle Media Network director gunned down in Mogadishu; over 20 suspected al Shabaab adherents arrested by ASWJ in Gedo region; pirates demand $8 million for the release of kidnapped American Michael Scott Moore

Yemen Security Brief

  • On January 29, gunmen attacked the offices of an electoral committee in Dhaleh governorate. Two soldiers who were guarding the building were injured. It is believed that the attack may be linked to the southern secessionist movement: on Friday, thousands demonstrated against the elections. In the words of separatist leader Nasser al Khubbagi, “The people of the south reject the elections completely. Holding them is an affirmation of the [northern] occupation and legitimizes its continuation in the south.”[1]
  • The Yemeni Foreign Office confirmed that President Ali Abdullah Saleh had arrived in the U.S. at 6:30 p.m. on January 28. It did not disclose his location.[2]
  • One Yemeni soldier and four al Qaeda-linked militants were killed in Zinjibar in combat lasting from the night of January 27 into January 28. In a separate incident, a high-ranking police officer, Mubarak Burafaa, was killed near his home in Ghayl Ba Wazir, in Hadramawt governorate. The assassins were not identified, but they are believed to be associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[3]
  • Ansar al Sharia’s Madad News Agency released its eighth newsletter on January 28, which argues, among other things, that the United States endorses the murderous policies of the Saleh regime.[4]
  • A bomb exploded in an Aden school, wounding seven people. All of the wounded were displaced women and children from Abyan governorate who have been staying in the school.[5]
  • On January 29, there were violent clashes between Yemeni soldiers and gunmen near the headquarters of the 135th Brigade in Dhaleh city. The gunmen are believed to be affiliated with the Southern Movement, which seeks a southern secession from the rest of the country.[6]
  • The Ibaad Center for Studies and Research reported that it expected a repeat of the “Rada’a and Abyan” scenario: in other words, al Qaeda-linked militants will continue to seek the overthrow of Yemeni cities under the pretext of protecting civilians. Its analysts expect such attacks in Ibb, Dhaleh, Lahij, Aden, and Hadramawt governorates. It also confirmed that elements within Saleh’s security apparatus collaborated with al Qaeda-linked militants in their takeover of Abyan governorate and Rada’a. It also reports that the center of the war on terror will shift from Afghanistan to Yemen and East Africa.[7]
  • On January 29, explosions were reported at the Sana’a headquarters of the First Armored Division, commanded by the defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar. Yemeni analysts believe that the attack was carried out by President Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, commander of the Republican Guard, and half-brother, Mohammed Saleh al Ahmar, head of the air force.[8]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An eyewitness reported that a roadside bomb killed two Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers near the port of Mogadishu on January 29. In a separate incident, a grenade attack on TFG forces in Hamar Jajab district of Mogadishu injured three TFG soldiers.[9]
  • Head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) Augustine Mahiga discussed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) strategy against al Shabaab. Mahiga said that AMISOM will conduct its operations on the outskirts of Mogadishu on its way to Afgoi, where “al Shabaab has retreated and has its highest concentration of its troops.” He also reported that KDF’s primary mission is to capture Kismayo from al Shabaab and then continue north to the port city of Marka.[10]
  • An Ethiopian armored personnel carrier hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Beledweyne on January 29. Following the explosion, Ethiopian soldiers fired at and killed the suspected attacker. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.[11]
  • Al Shabaab claimed responsibility over a grenade attack targeting the UN Development Program (UNDP) office in Wadajir district of Mogadishu on January 28. Witnesses said that the assailants lobbed five grenades at the building, injuring two civilians.[12]
  • Shabelle Media Network director Hassan Osman Abdi was shot and killed outside of his home in Mogadishu on January 28. Witnesses said that five gunmen targeted Abdi while he was returning home from work.[13]
  • Over 20 suspected al Shabaab-linked people from Garbaharey and Beled Hawo in Gedo region were arrested by Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a (ASWJ) on January 28. Ahlu Sunna spokesman in southern Somalia Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al Qadi said, “[ASWJ] learned that the extremist group was planning attacks in the Gedo region and so [ASWJ] had to act before they could attack.”[14]
  • Pirates set American journalist Michael Scott Moore’s ransom at eight million dollars. He is now believed to be in Hareeri Farah, about 60 kilometers from Harardhere in Mudug region. Moore was kidnapped near Galkayo on January 21.[15]

[1] “Gunmen Attack Yemen Election Committee Office,” January 29, 2012. Available:
[2] Sarah Maslin Nir, “Yemeni Leader Arrives in U.S. for Treatment,” New York Times, January 29, 2012.
[3] “Violence in South Yemen Kills Six: Officials,” AFP, January 29, 2012. Available:
[4] “Madad News Agency Presents a New Newsletter from Ansar al-Shari’ah in Yemen: ‘News Report, Issue #8,’” Jihadology, January 28, 2012. Available:
[5] “7 Abyan Displaced Persons Injured in Bomb Blast in Aden School,” al Masdar Online, January 30, 2012. Available:
[6] “Violent Clashes Between Gunmen and the Military in Dhaleh,” al Masdar Online, January 29, 2012. Available:
[7] “Report of Ibaad Center: Al Qaeda Will Transfer the War on Terror from Afghanistan to Yemen and East Africa,” al Masdar Online, January 30, 2012. Available:
[8] “Explosions Rock Headquarters of Defected Military Division,” Yemen Post, January 29, 2012. Available:
[9] Aweys Cadde, “Grenade Attack Targets TFG Soldiers,” Somalia Report, January 30, 2012. Available:
[10] Yara Bayoumy, “INTERVIEW: AU, Kenya Forces Move to Squeeze Rebels Out of Somalia,” Reuters, January 30, 2012. Available:
[11] Abdi Abtidoon, “Ethiopian APC Bombed in Beledweyne,” Somalia Report, January 29, 2012. Available:
[12] Aweys Cadde, “Grenade Attack Targets UN Office in Mogadishu,” Somalia Report, January 29, 2012. Available:
[13] “Shabelle Media Network Director Gunned Down Outside Home in Mogadishu,” Reporters Without Borders, January 28, 2012. Available:,41781.html
[14] Aweys Cadde, “Al-Shabaab Adherents Arrested in Gedo Region,” Somalia Report, January 28, 2012. Available:
[15] “Michael Scott Moore Moved to Hareeri Farah,” Somalia Report, January 28, 2012. Available:
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