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: Militants killed ten Yemeni soldiers in Abyan; security forces clashed with militants at army base near Zinjibar; shelling occurs in Taiz; defense ministry reports al Qaeda commander killed in Abyan; AQAP discussed plans to plant explosive in bodies of suicide bombers

Horn of Africa: Somali soldier opened fire on bus, killing two civilians; government arrested 16 al Shabaab-linked teenagers in Mogadishu; al Shabaab blocks trucks full of IDPs in Afgoi; Somali defense forces announced plan to implement new tactics against al Shabaab; al Shabaab received over $1.1 million from pirate ransom payments over four months; U.S .State Department stated U.S. government’s intent to test al Shabaab’s lifting of ban on foreign agencies

Yemen Security Brief

  • Suspected al Qaeda militants ambushed Yemeni security forces at a military checkpoint near the city of Lawder in Abyan governorate on July 6, killing all ten soldiers and wounding the driver.[1]
  • Yemeni soldiers clashed with Islamist militants who attacked an army base west of Zinjibar on July 6, leaving one soldier and seven militants dead.  Yemen’s Defense Ministry said that two militants were arrested.  Three soldiers were wounded in the fighting.[2]
  • A rocket hit a bus in Taiz, killing one person and injuring seven others.  A reporter told al Jazeera that heavy shelling in Taiz on July 6 targeted four sites, including a hospital.[3] 
  • Yemen’s Defense Ministry claims to have killed Walid Asiri, also known as Abu Khaled al Asiri, a reported al Qaeda commander, and several other militants in Abyan governorate.[4] 
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has discussed plans to surgically implant explosives in the bodies of would-be suicide bombers, according to a U.S. official.  The government has heightened security at airports and advised other nations to adjust security measures accordingly.  There is currently no evidence of an immediate plot.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Somali government police arrested 16 teenagers on July 7 in Hamar Weyne district of Mogadishu on charges of working with al Shabaab.  Somali police officer Ali Hirsi Barre said the suspects wore clothing and cut their hair in ways that closely resemble al Shabaab fighters.  Further investigations are underway to confirm their affiliation with al Shabaab.  Mr. Ali Gab, commander of the government soldiers for the western department in Mogadishu, said the suspects would be released if no conclusive evidence was found.[6] 
  • Al Shabaab-linked militants blocked trucks carrying displaced Somalis in the town of Afgoi from traveling into Mogadishu on July 6.  The move has left more than 40 destitute families stranded in the town.  Witnesses said that al Shabaab “won’t allow the people to seek aid from what they describe as the government of apostasy.”[7]
  • Somali deputy defense minister Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig said that Somali security forces were in their “last preparations and plans to purge Al Shabaab from the regions they control.”  He said that newly trained Somali soldiers have arrived in Garbaharey, the regional capital of Somalia’s southern Gedo region, and will implement new operations tactics to fight al Shabaab.  Hidig did not provide an explanation of the new war strategies.[8]
  • There is increasing cooperation between al Shabaab and Somali pirates. Reuters reported that al Shabaab’s “marine office” received over $1.1 million from ransom payments between February 25 and May 14 in Harardhere. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that pirates have bases in al Shabaab-controlled Kismayo in southern Somalia.[9]
  • U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the United States is prepared “to test the word” of al Shabaab, which has purportedly lifted a ban on foreign aid agencies.  The official said, “It's incumbent on us now, all of the aid donors and the international community, to test whether they really are ready to let starving people get humanitarian aid… Let's see if we can take them at their word or if they're going to again make this difficult.”[10] 


[1] “Many dead in Yemen attacks,” al Jazeera, July 7, 2011. Available:
 “Officials: Militants kill 10 Yemeni soldiers,” CNN, July 7, 2011. Available:
[2] “Thursday, July 7, 2011 – 03:28 – Yemen,” al Jazeera, July 7, 2011. Available:
“Clashes near southern Yemeni town seized by militants leave 7 Islamists, 1 soldier dead,” AP, July 6, 2011. Available:
[3] "Many dead in Yemen attacks,” Aljazeera, July 7, 2011. Available:
[4] “Officials: Militants kill 10 Yemeni soldiers,” CNN, July 7, 2011. Available:
 “Yemen Forces Kill Senior Al-Qaeda Commander in Abyan,” Yemen Post, July 6, 2011. Available:
[5] Brian Bennett, “Al Qaeda looks at surgical implants to get a bomb past airport security,” Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2011. Available:,0,3588476.story
[6] “Somalia: Police Arrest Al Shabaab Suspected Individuals,” Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu), July 7, 2011. Available:
“Police forces capture more than 10 young men suspected for having links with al shabab in Mogadishu,” Mareeg Online, July 7, 2011. Available:
[7] “Al shabaab blocks drought-displaced people to reaching at Mogadishu,” Mareeg Online, July 6, 2011. Available:
[8] “Somalia: We Started New Plans in Combating Al Shabaab, Says Govt,” Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu), July 7, 2011. Available:
[9] “Piracy ransom cash ends up with Somali militants,” Reuters, July 6, 2011. Available:
[10] “US ready to test willingness of Somali insurgents,” AFP, July 7, 2011. Available:
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