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 and AQIM joint statement condemns al Aqsa Mosque closure; AQAP militants attack al Houthi-Saleh forces in al Bayda governorate, central Yemen; AQAP spokesman promotes maintaining wives’ virtue in new video; suspected AQAP militants kill Yemeni security forces in Shabwah governorate; Aden banks announce three-day strike; UN Special Envoy for Yemen addresses Arab League officials in Cairo; Hadi government-aligned militias clash in Taiz city; al Houthi-Saleh forces target Hadi government-aligned forces in al Jawf governorate, northern Yemen; Saudi-led coalition warplanes strike al Houthi-Saleh positions in Sana’a governorate
Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab abducts aid workers in Bay region; AMISOM to clear roadblocks between Mogadishu and Baidoa; Kenyan president announces renewed security operations in Lamu County; KDF airstrikes target al Shabaab in Gedo region; al Shabaab claims attacks on security forces in central Somalia; al Shabaab claims to attack U.S. and AMISOM forces near Kismayo; al Shabaab claims attacks on security forces in Bay region; al Shabaab attacks security targets in Lower Shabelle region and Mogadishu; al Shabaab kills Kenyan foreign fighter amid ongoing recruitment efforts; ISIS-linked militants steal livestock near Qandala town, Bari region
Yemen Security Brief
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) condemned Israel’s prohibition of prayer at the al Aqsa mosque in in a joint statement on July 16. The statement called for the global Muslim community and Palestinians to resist Israel through jihad. Israeli police temporarily closed the al Aqsa Mosque compound on July 15 after three Palestinian gunmen killed two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem on July 14.
AQAP militants conducted three attacks against al Houthi-Saleh forces in , al Bayda governorate, central Yemen. AQAP militants attacked al Houthi-Saleh forces in Dhi Na’im using landmines, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and machine guns on July 13 and July 14. AQAP militants also claimed to seize and then withdraw from al Qawas point in Dhi Na’im on July 14.
AQAP spokesman Khaled Batarfi discussed the importance of upholding wives’ virtues on July 17 in the twelfth episode of his “Stories of the Prophets” series. He relayed the marital experiences of various Qur’anic prophets in the episode titled “Taking Care to Retain the Righteousness of Wives.” Batarfi’s video series markets AQAP’s ideology to Yemen’s Sunni population.
Suspected AQAP militants targeted Yemeni security forces in Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Harad area, Arma district, northeastern Shabwah governorate on July 16, killing six members of the Yemeni Army’s 30th Brigade. Shabwah governor Ali bin Rashid al Harthi initiated an investigation and compensated the soldiers’ families. Militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) at an Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces camp in Belhaf city, southern Rudum district, southern Shabwah governorate on July 17, killing three people.governorate. Unidentified gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by forces aligned with President
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and other regional leaders during a meeting at the Arab League headquarters in , Egypt on July 17. Ould Cheikh Ahmed discussed a plan to transfer al Hudaydah port in western Yemen from the al Houthi-Saleh faction to a neutral third party. He framed the peaceful transfer of the port as the first step toward a comprehensive political resolution to the Yemeni conflict. China is facilitating communications between the UN and the al Houthi-Saleh faction, which declared Ould Cheikh Ahmed a persona non grata in June 2017.
Clashes between Saudi-led coalition-backed militias intensified in city center on July 14 and July 15. The Ghazwan Mikhlafi militia, a Hadi government-aligned force, clashed with the Abu Abbas Brigade, a coalition-backed Salafi militia, in al Walid Market on July 15, killing one civilian. The two militias fought over tax revenues in Deluxe Market on July 14. Government security forces closed the al Walid and Deluxe Markets on July 15 in an effort to prevent the sale of qat and end the fighting. Security forces also claimed to arrest Ghazwan Mikhlafi on July 14.
Al Houthi-Saleh forces targeted Hadi government-aligned troops in governorate on July 17. Al Houthi-Saleh forces raided a Hadi government-aligned position in al Ghayl district, southwestern al Jawf and launched artillery at Hadi government-aligned troops in Khab wa al Shaaf district, eastern al Jawf. Al Houthi-Saleh forces and Hadi government troops last clashed in al Jawf on July 12.
Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck al Houthi-Saleh positions in governorate. Coalition warplanes launched six strikes on Daylami air force base, northern Sana’a city on July 17. They also targeted al Houthi-Saleh forces in Nihm district, eastern Sana’a governorate on July 16. The coalition continues airstrikes in preparation for a Hadi government-aligned ground offensive on Sana’a city.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Al Shabaab abducted seven Somali humanitarian aid workers in Garsata village near , Bay region, southern Somalia on July 15. The aid workers were traveling along the highway connecting Baidoa and Deynunay town in Bay region. Al Shabaab reportedly transferred the hostages to Dalandole town, a drought-stricken village controlled by al Shabaab. The group is reportedly demanding $20,000 in exchange for the hostages. The aid workers work for Garedo, an internationally funded organization based in Somalia.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced a road-clearing operation along the highway connecting to Baidoa, Bay region on July 16. Al Shabaab frequently constructs roadblocks and plants improvised explosive devices (IED) along the highway to obstruct military and humanitarian operations.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced renewed security operations in , eastern Kenya on July 17. President Kenyatta also ordered Kenyan police to “kill and bury” al Shabaab militants found in Lamu County. Al Shabaab escalated its attacks in Lamu County to drive voter demand for Kenyan military withdrawal from Somalia ahead of Kenya’s general elections on August 8.
Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) jets conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab strongholds in , southern Somalia on July 16. KDF jets targeted al Shabaab militants in Makalaa, Qabyo Sharif, Kabis villages near Garbaharey, Gedo region. Al Shabaab also claimed to detonate an IED targeting a KDF convoy in Liboi, Garissa County, along the Kenyan-Somali border, on July 16.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for several attacks targeting security forces in central Somalia on July 16 and 17. Al Shabaab claimed to detonate an IED targeting AMISOM troops near Mahaday town, , central Somalia on July 17. The group reportedly raided Djiboutian AMISOM bases in Bulaberte, Hiraan region, central Somalia on July 16. Al Shabaab also claimed to assassinate a Somali National Army (SNA) soldier in Beledweyne town, Hiraan region on July 16.
Al Shabaab conducted attacks targeting security forces in on July 15 and 16. Al Shabaab claimed to detonate an IED targeting U.S., Kenyan AMISOM, and SNA troops near Kismayo, Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia on July 16. The attack is not confirmed. Al Shabaab also claimed to take two police officers hostage in Jil, Lower Jubba region on July 15.
Al Shabaab clashed with local police near , Bay region, southern Somalia on July 16. Al Shabaab also ambushed a SNA convoy in Qasandhere, Bay region, southern Somalia on July 15. Militants reportedly killed a senior SNA commander in the attack.
Al Shabaab targeted security forces throughout southern Somalia on July 15 and 16. Al Shabaab militants clashed with Somali police officers near town, Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia on July 16. Somali police killed five militants in the clashes. Al Shabaab militants also assassinated two local police officers in Wadajir district, Mogadishu on July 15.
Al Shabaab executed a Kenyan foreign fighter on July 17. The foreign fighter, named Mustafa Hassan Mohamed, reportedly complained to an al Shabaab commander about the group’s tactics in and Garissa counties in eastern Kenya. Mustafa Hassan Mohamed is the fifth Kenyan foreign fighter executed after traveling to Somalia. Al Shabaab also released a propaganda video urging East African Muslims to travel to Somalia to join al Shabaab. The video features a Tanzanian foreign fighter who encourages Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Ugandan Muslims to wage jihad with al Shabaab in Somalia. This marks the fourth part of al Shabaab’s “Inspire the Believers” propaganda video series.
Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)-linked militants reportedly stole more than 100 livestock near , Bari region, northern Somalia. The theft threatens the survival of the local people, who rely on livestock for survival and face looming famine. ISIS-linked militants frequently clash with villagers near Qandala town. The group maintains a small stronghold outside of Qandala town.
 AQAP and AQIM release joint statement on the closure of al Aqsa Mosque, Telegram, July 16, 2017; Elisabeth Kendall, Twitter, July 17, 2017, https://twitter.com/Dr_E_Kendall/status/886896257544986624; and “Tensions mount as al-Aqsa remains closed,” Al Jazeera, July 16, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/07/tensions-mount-al-aqsa-remains-closed-170715072831311.html.
 AQAP targets al Houthi-Saleh forces with a landmine, Telegram, July 16, 2017; AQAP seizes al Qawas point in Dhi Na’im, Telegram, July 16, 2017; and AQAP targets al Houthi-Saleh forces with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) in al Bayda governorate, Telegram, July 16, 2017.
 AQAP releases the twelfth video in “Stories of the Prophets” series, Telegram, July 17, 2017.
 “Shabwah governor condemns the criminal attack on military checkpoint in Harad and orders the payment to the victims’ families,” Aden Tomorrow, July 17, 2017, http://adengad.net/news/267827/; “Six soldiers martyred in Haddad, Shabwah massacre and the perpetrators skill unknown,” Hadramout Net, July 16, 2017, https://www.7adramout.net/almandebnews/1392324/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%B1--%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A9-%D8%B4%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%B4-%D8%AD%D8%B5%D9%8A%D9%84%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B4%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A9-%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%87%D9%88%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%8A%D9%84.html; and “Car Bomb Targets al Hizam Camp in Belhaf, Shabwah,” Aden Lange, July 17, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/73641/.
 “A strike by banks in Aden to demand the authorities arrest the gunmen that robbed a government bank,” Al Masdar Online, July 16, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/92643; “Banks in Yemen city to close for three days after robberies,” Reuters, July 16, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-banks-idUSKBN1A10PL; and “The full details of a security operation ending with the arrest of a number of armed robbers in Aden,” Aden Tomorrow, July 17, 2017, http://adenghd.net/news/267918/.
 “Ould Cheikh will attend a meeting at the Arab League headquarters on Yemen,” Al Masdar Online, July 15, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/92616; “Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (Special Envoy) on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen) - Security Council, 7999th meeting,” The United Nations Web TV, July 12, 2017, http://webtv.un.org/watch/ismail-ould-cheikh-ahmed-special-envoy-on-the-situation-in-the-middle-east-yemen-security-council-7999th-meeting/5504011508001?page=5; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, July 6, 2017, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-july-6-2017.
 “The security committee begins removing the al Walid and Deluxe Markets to end the tensions in Taiz city center,” Al Masdar Online, July 15, 2017, http://almasdaronline.com/article/92602; “A civilian was killed as a result of renewed fighting between armed factions in al Walid Market in downtown Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, http://almasdaronline.com/article/92601; and “The killing of an officer south of the city of Taiz and government forces arrested Ghazwan Mikhlafi,” Al Masdar Online, http://almasdaronline.com/article/92588.
 “A Number of Mercenaries Killed and Wounded in Army Operations on Various Fronts,” Sabanews, July 17, 2017, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news469372.htm; and “A Number of Mercenaries Killed and Wounded in an Attack on Their Positions in al Matan, al Jawf,” Sabanews, July 12, 2017, http://www.saba.ye/ar/news469028.htm.
 “Saudi aggression warplanes hit capital,” Sabanews, July 17, 2017, https://www.sabanews.net/en/news469367.htm; and “Al Houthi-Saleh Forces Killed and Wounded by Coalition Raids East of Sana’a,” Aden Lange, July 16, 2017, http://adnlng.com/news/73559/.
 “Somalia: Militants abduct seven aid workers in Bay region,” Garowe Online, July 15, 2017, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-militants-abduct-seven-aid-workers-in-bay-region; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 15, 2017, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/886301390318055424.
 Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/886570859728654337.
 NationBreakingNews, Twitter, July 17, 2017, https://twitter.com/NationBreaking/status/886933817503690752.
 Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “KDF Conduct Raid In Militant-Held Location In Gedo, Southern Somalia, Kill 40 Shebab Militants,” Intelligence Briefs, July 17, 2017, http://intelligencebriefs.com/kdf-conduct-raid-in-militant-held-location-in-gedo-southern-somalia-kill-40-shebab-militants/; Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/886638573616857089; and Morad News, Twitter, July 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/MoradNews/status/886541139419033601. .
 Morad News, Twitter, July 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/MoradNews/status/886649068239376384; and Al Shabaab claims attacks on security forces in central Somalia, Telegram, July 17, 2017.
 Morad News, Twitter, July 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/MoradNews/status/886520208910929920; and Al Shabaab claims attacks in Lower Jubba region, Telegram, July 16, 2017.
 Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 16, 2017’ https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/886695010296627200; and Morad News, Twitter, July 15, 2017, https://twitter.com/MoradNews/status/886172309597433856.
 Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 16, 2017, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/886687412704989184; and Harun Maruf, Twitter, July 15, https://twitter.com/HarunMaruf/status/886257334640680961.
 Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Kenyan Al-Shabaab Operative Killed After Faulting His Commanders In Somalia,” Intelligence Briefs, July 17, 2017, http://intelligencebriefs.com/kenyan-al-shabaab-operative-killed-after-faulting-his-commanders-in-somalia/; and “Tanzanian Fighter in Shabaab Video Calls for Muslims in Somalia-Neighboring Countries to Migrate,” SITE Intelligence Group, July 15, 2017, available by subscription at https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/.
 “Maleeshiyada ISIS oo boobaysa xoolaha gobolka Bari,” Puntland Mirror, July 16, 2017, http://puntlandmirror.net/maleeshiyada-isis-oo-boobaysa-xoolaha-gobolka-bari/.