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: Dubai police chief says detained terrorist cell in Dubai belongs to AQAP; senior military source claims that announcement regarding military appointments to command Yemen’s military districts is imminent and names expected commanders; one soldier killed and others wounded in mutiny in 29th Mechanized Brigade in Amran Governorate; President Hadi meets with French ambassador to Yemen; sources close to Yemeni presidency deny that President Hadi will call upon Brigadier General Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh in case of insurrection by Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab terror suspect escapes British surveillance in London, England; Himan and Heeb security forces conduct security operations in Adado, Galgudud region; Somaliland police clash with protesters in Sayla, Wooqooyi Galbeed region; Somali minister of industry and trade travels to India; Somali defense minister travels to Kenya and Uganda; al Shabaab militant is arrested in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya; Kenyan authorities reshuffle senior police officer in Northeast, Kenya; U.S. Army to train Kenyan troops in Kenya

Yemen Security Brief

  • Dubai’s police chief, Dahi Khalfan, told Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published January 9 that individuals who belonged to a terrorist cell detained on December 26 in the UAE were affiliated with AQAP, and that their operations involved elements in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He claimed that the cell had planned to mount bomb attacks, and had ordered circuits necessary for building explosives, as well as night optical devices.[1]
  • A senior military source told Yemeni daily Ashara’a that decisions relating to the appointments of commanders for Yemen’s seven military districts and other important leadership roles would come in the next few days, but stressed that this announcement would be preceded by the issuance of a National Reconciliation Law. He claimed that these decisions had already been made, and that the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein and the UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar had been in contact with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in an effort to ensure that the announcement would go as smoothly as possible. The source also claimed that Major General Mahmoud al Subaihi is expected to be appointed as commander of Yemen’s Southern Military District, and Abdulraghib Ali Thabet as commander of either the Middle or Northern Military District, the latter in case Major General Ali Mohsen refuses to be appointed as Northern District commander himself. Lastly, he claimed that Mohsen Nasser al Qasim and Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh were the most likely candidates for command of the Western and Central Military Districts, respectively.[2]
  • One soldier was killed and others were wounded on January 9, when soldiers belonging to the 29th Mechanized Brigade in Harf Sufyan District of Amran governorate mutinied against their commander, Brigadier General Abdullah al Sadmi, and engaged in a firefight with members of his entourage. The soldiers accused al Sadmi of corruption and affiliation with President Saleh’s deposed regime, and succeeded in expelling him from the military camp, after which he left for Sana’a.[3]
  • President Hadi met with the French Ambassador to Yemen Franck Gellet on January 9 to discuss implementation of the Gulf Initiative and Yemen’s comprehensive national dialogue. President Hadi also called on Total, a French petroleum company and key player in Yemen’s oil market, to actualize its agreements with the Yemeni government and renegotiate prices based on changing market conditions. Lastly, discussions covered recent terrorist attacks on oil infrastructure and their impact on the Yemeni economy.[4]
  • Sources close to President Hadi told Al Khaleej on January 9 that President Hadi had no plans to call upon Brigadier General Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh, eldest son of deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in case of rebellion by Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar. Brigadier General Saleh currently resides in Switzerland.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • An al Shabaab terror suspect, who had been under surveillance by the British government, escaped British officials in London on December 26. Ibrahim Magag was under suspicion of attending al Shabaab training camps in Somalia. The convention in Britain is to place a set of control orders upon the suspect when he or she has not yet been charged. This includes wearing a tracking bracelet and spending eight to ten hours a night in their home. Magag was able to tamper with the tracker and elude British authorities by jumping into a cab.[6]
  • U.S.-born al Shabaab militant Omar Hammami released a document on January 7 describing the history of al Shabaab. He began with al Shabaab’s origins after the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. Hammami then discussed the competition between al Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders. Hammami described al Shabaab leaders as pushing out al Qaeda and hampering global jihadist movements.[7]
  • Himan and Heeb security forces conducted security operations in Adado, Galgudud region on January 8. Around 30 people were arrested during the searches, but several were released shortly after. The area has seen several crimes recently.[8]
  • Somaliland police clashed with political protestors in Sayla, Woqooyi Galbeed region on January 9. Hundreds of civilians were protesting the outcome of the recent Somaliland elections when Somaliland police intervened. Police fired shots in to the crowds to disperse the protestors and injured eight people. The injured were transported to Djibouti for treatment.[9]
  • Somali Minister of Industry and Trade Mohammed Ahmed Hassan Dalab traveled to India on January 8 in order to sign a trade agreement with the country. Minister Dalab hopes to revive old trade deals struck between Somalia and India. He also hopes Indian business leaders will help Somalia revive its failed industries.[10]
  • Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Fiqi traveled to Kenyan and Uganda to discuss important military issues on January 9. Minister Fiqi will meet with the defense ministers from both countries and talk about ways to increase the strength of Somali and AMISOM forces. He will also discuss how to properly train Somali soldiers so that they may defend their own country without outside help.[11]
  • An al Shabaab militant was arrested in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya on January 3. The suspect did not have any proper documentation and confessed to working for al Shabaab while in custody. He had crossed into Kenya near Jilib, Somalia.[12]
  • Kenyan police reshuffled senior officers operating in Northeast Kenya on January 9. The changes are an effort to increase security and decrease terrorist attacks in the area. Philip Tuimur, police chief in Garissa, was one of the officers moved.[13]  
  • United States troops from the Army’s 2nd Brigade, known as the Dagger Brigade, will travel to Kenya to train Kenyan soldiers. The 200 soldiers sent to Kenya will be part of a larger group of 1,200 troops who will be stationed in 35 countries across Africa. The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, announced the decision on December 23 and the soldiers will deploy in March 2013.[14]

[1]“Khalfan to ‘aSharq al Awsat’: The Terrorist Cell Uncovered was Split Three Ways Between Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the UAE,” Asharq al-Awsat, January 9, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[2] “A Military Source Uncovers the Names of the Military District Commanders and Says that the Decisions are Ready,” Barakish, January 9, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[3] “Soldier Killed and Others Wounded … Soldiers in the 29th Mika Brigade in Amran Expel Their Commander,” News Yemen, January 9, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[4] “The President of the Republic Receives the French Ambassador in Sana’a,” Saba News, January 9, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[5] A’adil Salawi, “Sources Close to the Yemeni Presidency Deny al Ahmar Rebellion Against Hadi,” al Khaleej, January 9, 2013 [Arabic]. Available:
[6] “Missing Terror Suspect Escaped in London Cab, May Told,” Bloomberg, January 8, 2013. Available:
[7] “Hammami Presents a Brief History of al Qaeda in Somalia, Shabaab,” SITE Intelligence Group, January 8, 2013. Available at SITE.
[8] “Himan and Heb Conducts Security Operation in Adado District,” Bar Kulan, January 9, 2013. Available:
[9] “Eight Injured in a Violent Protest in Sayla,” Bar Kulan, January 9, 2013. Available:
[10] “Somalia, India to Sign Trade Agreements,” Bar Kulan, January 8, 2013. Available:
[11] “Defense Minister Fiqi Travels to Kenya, Uganda for Key Talks,” Bar Kulan, January 9, 2013. Available:
[12] “Al Shabaab Suspected Admits Being in Kenya Illegally,” Coast Week, January 4, 2013. Available:
[13] “Nine Senior Police Officers Reshuffled,” Daily Standard, January 9, 2013. Available:
[14]“Army Plans to Shift Troops to US Africa Command,” Washington Times, December 23, 2013. Available:
 “US Army Trainer Head to Africa,” Africa Review, January 7, 2013. Available:
View Citations
Arrow down red
Feb '13
Jan '13
Dec '12