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: Offensive continues in Zinjibar; security forces clash with opposition fighters in Sana’a; government forces killed al Qaeda leader in Abyan; AQAP releases sixth edition of Inspire; jihadist announces plans to release cartoon about AQAP; protestors dispersed in Sana’a, one person killed
Horn of Africa: UN seeks security guarantees; Somali forces clash at Villa Somalia; al Shabaab arrests 20 people for crimes against Islam; government soldier kills civilian driver at K4 junction in Mogadishu; U.S. citizen pleads guilty to aiding al Shabaab
Yemen Security Brief
- A Yemeni security source claims the army killed 23 Islamist militants on July 18 in an ongoing offensive to retake Zinjibar.
- Security forces clashed with opposition fighters in Sana’a, killing six people and injuring at least 14 others. One clash erupted when “security forces and gunmen in civilian clothes” fired on protestors marching outside a main square, killing one person and injuring eight. Shelling during clashes between opposition tribesmen and Republican Guard in northern Sana’a killed five and injured six others in Arhab district.
- A Yemeni official reported that government forces killed suspected al Qaeda leader Hassan Basonbol, who used the alias Abu Issa, in Abyan governorate on July 18. His death comes amid an offensive by armed tribesmen to expel militants from Abyan. Tribal leader Mohammed Sakin Jaadani said tribesmen have seized control of the police station, a government building and a clinic in the town of Shaqra, east of Zinjibar, “without a fight.” Police chief Abdullah Nasser claims his men were able to “expel Al-Qaeda elements” in the town of Wadyia.
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new issue of its English-language magazine, Inspire, on July 18. The magazine includes articles in praise of Osama bin Laden, biographies and eulogies of killed AQAP operatives, including Abu Ali al Harithi, Ammar al Waili, Fawaz al Ma’ribi, Ali Saleh, Abu Hatim, and Abu Hashim. The issue also continues to the “Open Source Jihad” series and gives instructions for weapons training and explosive-making. 
- A jihadist announced his plans to release a cartoon he created about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He describes the cartoon as an “educational production” about the “noble life” of AQAP operatives. A section of his message reads, “The film contains an exciting story and explains facts about some people who abandon the religion and defense of the prophet (Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him), and about agency to the West and other Islamic issues, and also incites the youth and the children to follow the steps of these jihadi figures.”
- Security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrators marching on a main street in Sana’a, killing one and wounding eight others. Approximately 100 journalists marched outside the residence of Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi on July 18 to demand an end to “harassment and censorship by authorities.”
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- The UN is seeking security guarantees for aid workers in Somalia. Al Shabaab has promised access to humanitarian workers in areas under its control. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said, “The situation we have for humanitarian workers inside Somalia at the moment is not what we want it to be.”
- Somali government forces clashed at the Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, leaving two people dead and two others wounded. Fighting erupted between “presidential guards and soldiers loyal to the speaker of the parliament” for reasons that remain unclear. Independent sources said the fighting may have related to recent disagreements between the president and speaker over the appointment of new cabinet ministers. One military officer was among the dead.
- Al Shabaab fighters arrested 20 people on July 19 in the Middle Shabelle region for “committing crimes against the Islamic religion.” Al Shabaab arrested the men and women after search operations at villages near Jowhar town, approximately 56 miles north of Mogadishu.
- A Somali government soldier killed a civilian driver at the K4 junction in Mogadishu on July 18 after the driver refused to pay an illicit fee to the guard.
- Omer Abdi Mohamed pleaded guilty on July 18 to providing material support to al Shabaab. He admitted to one count of “conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim others in a foreign country.” He attended meetings at “a mosque, restaurant and residence in Minneapolis” to plan transactions, was “present when the money was raised,” and helped al Shabaab-linked men obtain airplane tickets. He faces up to 15 years in prison.