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: British paper reports on Saudi Arabia targeted airstrikes in Yemen; suspected Israeli spy to face trial in Aden governorate; assailants kidnap senior military officer in Hadramawt governorate; Yemeni soldiers clash with tribesmen in Ma’rib governorate

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants attack Puntland base in Laag, Bari region; Somali troops preparing for offensive in Bardhere and Burdubo, Gedo region; Somali and AMISOM troops begin nighttime patrols in Mogadishu; al Shabaab arrests more than 100 clerics in El Dheer, Galgudud region; al Shabaab arrests 13 clan elders in Bardhere, Gedo region; 23 Somali nationals arrested in South Sudan; Ethiopian authorities arrest 15 suspected al Shabaab militants in Ethiopia; Somali foreign minister meets with British foreign secretary in London, England

Yemen Security Brief

  • The London Times reported that Saudi Arabia has been carrying out targeted airstrikes in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants. According to a U.S. intelligence official quoted by the Times, some of the airstrikes that have been attributed to American direct action are “actually Saudi Air Force missions.”[1]
  • The alleged Israeli spy arrested in Taiz governorate in December has been transferred to Aden city, where he will face trial. The man, who has been identified in the media as Ibrahim Adra’a, Ali Abdul-Mohsen al Himi al Siaghi, as well as Ibrahim al Dharai, is accused of working for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and attempting to build a spy network across all of Yemen.[2]
  • Militants kidnapped a senior officer in the 23rd Mechanized Brigade in Hadramawt governorate on January 4. Local sources identified the officer as Hassan Abu Bakr, and added that the assailants may be drug dealers. A large shipment of illegal drugs was reportedly seized at a military checkpoint in Hadramawt governorate a few days ago, leading security officials to believe that the kidnapping is retaliation for the seizure of the drugs.[3]
  • Yemeni soldiers from the 3rd Mountain Infantry Brigade clashed with tribesmen in Ma’rib city on January 4. The clashes broke out at a security checkpoint after the soldiers attempted to prevent the tribesmen from carrying weapons into the city.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Puntland military base in the town of Laag, Bari region on January 3. Puntland authorities claim to have killed three al Shabaab soldiers and wounded five others while repelling the attack. Only one Puntland soldier was reportedly killed during the fighting.[5] 
  • Somali troops are preparing for an offensive against al Shabaab militants in the towns of Bardhere and Burdubo, Gedo region. Nearly 2,500 troops have been mobilized to the surrounding areas for what Somali and AMISOM troops hope to be a final push against al Shabaab in the Gedo region. Military sources say the attack will begin soon.[6]
  • Somali and AMISOM troops began nighttime patrols of Mogadishu on January 2. These patrols are meant to ensure the safety of civilians within the city. This report by Somali news agency Al Shahid comes several days after Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon revealed it had trained 1,000 officers whose main objective was to remove illegal roadblocks in Mogadishu.[7]
  • Al Shabaab militants arrested over 100 Muslim clerics in El Dheer, Galgudud region on January 4. Al Shabaab accused the clerics of not trying to recruit people to its cause. All of the clerics were either Quran teachers or a different type of religious teacher. They are now being held at an al Shabaab military base.[8]
  • Al Shabaab leaders returned to the town of Bardhere, Gedo region on January 3 and arrested 13 clan elders, after having withdrawn from it on December 31. Al Shabaab accused the elders of staying in the town so that they could welcome the Somali and AMISOM troops. Before leaving, al Shabaab threatened elders who stayed in the town once the terrorist organization left.[9]
  • There were 23 Somali nationals arrested in Juba, South Sudan on January 4. Fifteen of the detainees were let go, but eight remain in custody. The reason for the arrests is still not known.[10]
  • Ethiopian authorities arrested fifteen al Shabaab militants in Ethiopia on January 2. Among the possessions found on the suspects were training manuals and videos, as well as weapons. The fifteen al Shabaab militants were reportedly planning terrorist attacks in Ethiopia.[11]  
  • Al Shabaab released seven communiqués on December 28 claiming 27 attacks between December 9 and 17. Among these attacks claimed, al Shabaab says a roadside bomb killed 10 Ethiopian troops in a convoy and that al Shabaab militants killed eight Somali troops in a raid on a military base in Mogadishu.[12]
  • Somali Foreign Minister Fowzia Yusuf Adam met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, England on January 3. The two talked about recent victories against al Shabaab as well as Somalia’s plans to improve security, the justice system, political accountability and the Somali economy.[13]     

[1] “Saudi Jets Join America’s Secret War in Yemen,” London Times, January 4, 2012. Available:
[2] “Man Charged with Spying for Israel in Yemen,” Reuters, January 4, 2013. Available:
Ahmed al Haj, “Israeli-Yemeni Charged with Espionage in Yemen, AP, January 3, 2013. Available:
[3] “Breaking… Kidnapping of Senior Official in the 23rd Mechanized Brigade,” Barakish, January 4, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “Breaking… Armed Clashes in Downtown Ma’rib,” Barakish, January 4, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] “Al Shabaab Militants Target Puntland Military Base,” Al Shahid, January 4, 2013. Available:
“Puntland Claims Killing Three Terrorists, Repelling Militant Attack,” Bar Kulan, January 4, 2013. Available:
[6] “Government Troops to Attack al Shabaab Bastions in Gedo,” Bar Kulan, January 4, 2013. Available:
[7] “Somali Police, AMISOM Begin Night Patrols in Mogadishu,” Sabahi, January 3, 2013. Available:
“1,000 New troops Ready to Secure Mogadishu,” Sabahi, December 31, 2012. Available:
[8] “100 Clerics Arrested in El Dheer, Galgudud,” Bar Kulan, January 4, 2013. Available:
[9] “Islamists Return to Southwester Somali Town, Seize 13 Clan Elders,” Dhacdo Online, January 3, 2013. Available:
[10] “Somalis Rounded Up in South Sudan,” Bar Kulan, January 4, 2013. Available:
[11] “Ethiopia: 15 Al Shabaab Suspects were Arrested by Ethiopian Police,” AP, January 3, 2012. Available:
[12] “Shabaab Claims 29 Attack, Holds Shariah Education Courses,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 3, 2012. Available at SITE.
[13] “Foreign Secretary Discusses Progress in Somalia with Foreign Minister,” UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, January 3, 2013. Available:
“Somali FM to Meet UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in London,” Bar Kulan, January 3, 2012. Available:
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