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: AQAP confronts local militia in Zinjibar and Ja’ar; officer assassinated in Aden; coalition continues air campaign targeting al Houthi-Saleh military sites; al Houthis claim to kill ISIS field commander in Taiz

Horn of Africa: Gunmen injure employee of Turkish company in Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district, Banadir region; IED blast hits KDF convoy in Afmadow, Lower Shabelle region; Turkish officials announce construction of military training base in Somalia; al Shabaab releases eulogy for a senior AQIM member

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) clashed with local Popular Committees fighters in Zinjibar in the southern governorate of Abyan on January 5. AQAP recently recaptured Zinjibar and nearby Ja’ar, which it occupied in 2011 and part of 2012. Abdul Latif al Sayyed, the leader of Abyan’s Popular Committees, recently fled to Aden to escape AQAP’s efforts to assassinate him.[1]
  • Unidentified militants assassinated an officer of the Criminal Investigations Division in Aden on January 6. The attack follows yesterday’s attempted assassination of the governors of Aden and Lahij provinces in Aden and the assassination of a local official.[2]
  • The Saudi-led coalition continues to launch airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh military targets throughout northern and central Yemen. The coalition escalated attacks in and around the capital Sana’a on January 5 and 6, targeting al Daylami airbase and al Houthi military barracks in the district of al Nahdayn, as well as al Hafa base southeast of Sana’a. The coalition also conducted strikes in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen and Ma’rib and al Jawf governorates in north central Yemen.[3]
  • Pro-al Houthi news outlet Al Masirah TV claimed that al Houthi forces killed an Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) field commander, Hassan Hamoud Uqlan, in clashes in Taiz city on January 5. The clashes occurred in the Thu’bat district in the southeast part of the city, which recently witnessed fighting between coalition-backed and al Houthi-Saleh forces. There are no previous reports of ISIS ground fighters operating in Taiz, but AQAP fighters are active in the city.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Unidentified gunmen attacked a female employee of FAVORI LLC, a Turkish company operating in Somalia, on January 6 in Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district, Banadir region. The gunmen ambushed the victim as she was leaving her house, wounding her before fleeing the scene. It is unclear if the victim is a Turkish national. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, although al Shabaab has launched several recent attacks targeting Turkish citizens.[5]
  • An improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) convoy detonated on January 6 near Afmadow, Lower Shabelle region. Local residents said that the blast destroyed one of the KDF vehicles, although specific casualty figures are unavailable. No group claimed credit for the attack, but the target suggests al Shabaab.[6]       
  • Officials from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry announced that Turkey is constructing a military training base in Mogadishu. The base will be used to train both the Somali National Army (SNA) as well as other the militaries of African countries. The officials also announced plans to construct a military school in Somalia to train SNA officers. The to-be-established training base and military school are part of a larger trend of Turkish support for Somalia’s security forces since establishment of the Somali Federal government (SFG) in 2012.[7]
  • Al Shabaab released a eulogy on December 31 for Abu al Hassan Rashid al Bulaydi, the head of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) Sharia Council. Bulaydi was killed in an ambush by Algerian forces on December 25 in the country’s northern Tizi Ouzou province. The eulogy reaffirms al Shabaab’s affiliation with al Qaeda amid efforts by Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) affiliates to encourage the group to change its allegiances.[8]
[1] “Armed clashes between Al Qaeda and the resistance in west of Zinjibar,” Aden al-Ghad, January 6, 2016,
[2] “New assassination operation—the third in Aden within hours,”, January 6, 2016,
[3] “Strikes on al Hafa base,”, January 6, 2016,
“A new wave of strikes in the capital Sana’a – Details,”, January 6, 2016,
“Series of strikes in Murawa’a in al Hudayda,”, January 6, 2016,
[4] “Houthis claim to have killed a Daesh commander in Yemen,” Al Bawaba, January 5, 2016,
“al Qaeda infiltration complicates brutal battle for Taiz,” Middle East Eye, September 13, 2015,
[5] “Favori female employee injured in Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, January 6, 2016,
“Breaking: Favori employee injured in Mogadishu,” Wacaal Media, January 6, 2016,
[6] “KDF convoy targeted in IED blast near Afmadow,” Shabelle News, January 6, 2016,
Olga Bogorad, Twitter, January 6, 2016,
[7] “Turkey set to build a military training center in Somalia,” Today’s Zaman, January 6, 2016,
[8] “New statement from ?arakat al-Shab?b al-Muj?hid?n: “The ‘Ulam?’: The Heirs of the Prophets: Condolences on the Martyrdom of Shaykh Rash?d al-Bulayd?,”” Jihadology, December 31, 2015,
“Join ISIS - Nigeria’s Boko Haram tells Al-Shabab,” Hiraan Online, October 15, 2015,
“Come and join the caliphate, ISIS urges Al-Shabab,” Al Shahid Network, October 5, 2015,
Robyn Kriel and Lilian Leposo, “In video, Somali ISIS members court Al-Shabaab,” CNN, May 22, 2015,
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