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: Transitional Political Council holds first meeting in Aden; AQAP militants attack Emirati-backed security forces in Abyan governorate; al Qaeda spokesman emphasizes the importance of jihad in the Arabian Peninsula; reported ISIS militants threaten retribution in Radfan district, Lahij governorate; Saudi-led coalition warplanes target al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Taiz governorate

Horn of Africa: U.S. AFRICOM airstrike targets al Shabaab near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region; al Shabaab militants raid Kenyan police outpost in Pandanguo, Lamu County, Kenya; al Shabaab militants detonate IED targeting SNA convoy in Gofgudud, Bay region; al Shabaab attacks target government officials in Mogadishu; al Shabaab executes two foreign fighters accused of espionage

Yemen Security Brief

The Transitional Political Council for the South held its first session in Aden on July 5. The Emirati-backed council rivals the authority of the internationally-recognized government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The council is planning a demonstration advocating for southern independence on July 7, the anniversary of the south’s failed 1994 war of secession. Council members denounced Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghir as morally bankrupt after he criticized the Transitional Political Council. President Hadi may be forming a Saudi-backed southern council to counter the Emirati-backed Transitional Political Council, according to unconfirmed reports. President Hadi dismissed three southern governors affiliated with the Transitional Political Council on June 28.[1]

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants attacked Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Shaqra town, Abyan governorate, southern Yemen on July 5. AQAP released a video on July 3 showing a night raid on an al Hizam security forces checkpoint in Shaqra, southern Abyan governorate that occurred on May 3. The video depicted speeches from militants, a planning session, and a voiceover accusing the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel of waging a war against Islam. AQAP militants temporarily seized Shaqra on May 3 but forces under the command of the Abyan governor retook the town, according to a local security official. AQAP is developing its relationship to local tribes in Shaqra, a strategic crossroads in southern Abyan.[2]

Al Qaeda shari’a scholar and senior leader in Syria Sami al Oraidi released a new statement titled “Jihad of the Nation and Groups of the Nation” on July 2. Oraidi underscored the global importance of the local Yemeni conflict by emphasizing the requirement to expel the Americans from the Arabian Peninsula. He also urged his followers to avoid becoming lost in local conflicts. [3] 

Reported Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants hung leaflets and posters threatening retribution against Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces in Radfan district, northeastern Lahij governorate on July 5. Yemeni security forces killed a suspected AQAP militant in a mosque in Radfan district on June 23. The local commander of the al Hizam security forces called on security personnel and civilians to remain vigilant against terrorist and criminal activities.[4]

Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted al Houthi-Saleh positions in western Taiz governorate on July 4. Coalition strikes killed ten al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Mawza’ and Maqbanah districts. Coalition airstrikes killed 15 al Houthi-Saleh fighters in Mawza’ district on June 29. Coalition airstrikes also killed eight civilians north of Mokha city in al Houthi-Saleh territory on July 4. Coalition airstrikes in western Taiz governorate are intended to support Hadi government-aligned forces conducting an offensive to advance toward al Hudaydah port.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

U.S. AFRICOM conducted an airstrike targeting an al Shabaab “troop concentration” near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on July 4. AFRICOM utilized “actionable intelligence” to “engage in collective self-defense” of its Somali partners. AFRICOM conducted the airstrike in response to an al Shabaab raid targeting a Somali National Army (SNA) base north of Kismayo, according to a local report.  This marks the second AFRICOM airstrike targeting al Shabaab in Somalia this week. AFRICOM conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab militants, possibly including al Shabaab intelligence chief Ibrahim Haji Daud, in Kunya Barrow town, Lower Shabelle region on July 2.[6]

Al Shabaab raided a Kenyan police outpost in Pandanguo, Lamu county, eastern Kenya on July 5. Militants destroyed a telecommunication mast during the clashes in an attempt to hinder security forces’ response to the attack. Nearly 200 al Shabaab militants clashed with Kenyan forces for nearly ten hours. Al Shabaab killed two police officers and wounded six others. Seven officers are reported missing after the raid. Al Shabaab claimed it killed “scores” of Kenyan police and military forces in the attack.[7]

Al Shabaab militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a SNA convoy in Gofgudud, Bay region, southern Somalia on July 5. The attack killed five SNA troops and wounded several others.[8]

Al Shabaab conducted several attacks in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 4 and 5. Al Shabaab militants detonated an IED targeting a Somali immigration officer in Waberi district, Mogadishu on July 5. Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility for an attack targeting the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Mogadishu on July 5. Militants fired rocket propelled grenades (RPG) targeting the headquarters before gunmen attacked the compound. Al Shabaab militants also fired mortars targeting Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 4. The attack wounded four SNA soldiers. Al Shabaab also detonated a “sticky bomb” targeting Abdul Razaq Bahlawi, the Former Director of the Ministry of Intelligence, in Mogadishu on July 4. The group claimed to wound Bahlawi in the attack.[9]

Al Shabaab publicly executed two Indian foreign fighters in Jilib, Middle Jubba region, southern Somalia on July 4. Al Shabaab accused the two foreign fighters of committing espionage to support Western governments. The execution follows a U.S. AFRICOM airstrike in Kunya Barrow, Lower Shabelle region on July 2.[10] 

[1] “The Southern Transitional Council Threatens Bin Daghir with 'Punishment not Desired by Anyone' and Accuses his Government of Failure and Bankruptcy,” Al Masdar Online, July 5, 2017,; “The Southern Transitional Council Responds to Bin Daghir’s Remarks,” Aden 24, July 4, 2017,; and “Bin Daghir Warns of Foolish Conflict in Aden and Addresses the Returnees: Keep Hadi or Wait for the Houthis,” Al Masdar Online, July 4, 2017,; and Ammar Aulaqi, Twitter, July 3, 2017,  
[2] AQAP claims attack on al Hizam Security Forces in Shaqra city, Abyan governorate, Telegram, July 5, 2017; “A security source to Aden Lange: This is a fact, however, the fall of the coastal city al Shaqra to al Qaeda,” May 3, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project,
[3] “New article from al Qaeda’s Dr. Sami al Oraidi: ‘Jihad of the Nation and the Groups of the Nation,’” Jihadology, July 2, 2017,; and Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 5, 2017,
[4] “ISIS Vows Retaliation Following the Killing of one of its Members .. Commander of al Hizam security forces in Radfan Inspects Security Checkpoints,” Aden Tomorrow, June 5, 2017,; and “Officials: Terrorist Killed During Clash with Security Forces at a Radfan Mosque,” Aden Tomorrow, June 23, 2017,
[5] “Ten al Houthi-Saleh Fighters Killed and 18 Wounded in Coalition Airstrikes in western Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, July 4, 2017,; and “Eight Women and Children Killed in Coalition Airstrikes north of Mokha,” Al Masdar Online, July 4, 2017,
[6] U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs, “U.S. strikes al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia,” U.S. AFRICOM, July 5, 2017,; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 5, 2017,; and Morad News, Twitter, July 5, 2017,
[7] “Al-Shabaab attack Pandanguo police post in Lamu,” Standard Media, July 5, 2017,; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 5, 2017,
[8] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 5, 2017,
[9] Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 5, 2017,; Morad News, Twitter, July 5, 2017,; “Shabaab Claims Mortar Attack on Presidential Palace in Somali Capital,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 4, 2017, available by subscription at; and “Shabaab Claims Wounding Former Director of Somalia’s Ministry of Information with Bomb in Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, available by subscription
[10] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “2 Indian Jihadist Executed By Al-Shabaab On Espionage Claims,” Intelligence Briefs, July 4, 2017,

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