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: Yemen military recaptures Jaar and Zinjibar; interview with AQAP military spokesman features details on May 21 suicide attack, battle for Abyan; findings from May 21 suicide attack in Sana’a to be released next week

Horn of Africa: TFG, Kenyan troops clash with al Shabaab near Qoqani; al Shabaab recaptures Mahas from Ahlu Sunna and Ethiopian forces; al Shabaab arrests four people in Elbur; Somali peacemaker in Beledweyne assassinated; Kenya asks for financial assistance from U.S. ahead of assault on al Shabaab’s stronghold in Kismayo; newly trained TFG soldiers arrive to Beledweyne

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemen’s commander of the southern military zone General Salem Qatan reported that the former Ansar al Sharia strongholds of Zinjibar and Jaar in Abyan governorate have been “completely cleansed.” The Yemeni Defense Ministry said that the Yemeni military, backed by armed tribesmen, entered Zinjibar and Jaar where they clashed with Ansar al Sharia militants. At least 20 militants, four soldiers, and two civilians were killed in the attack. Twenty more Yemeni soldiers were also injured. The Defense Ministry added that between 200 and 300 Ansar al Sharia militants, including foreign fighters, fled from Jaar, Zinjibar, and Shaqra. Residents in Jaar reported that militants left behind flyers stating that Ansar al Sharia did not want to “cause any harm to Jaar and its inhabitants.” Additionally, the Yemeni Navy reportedly sunk 10 boats carrying Ansar al Sharia militants.[1]
  • In an interview with al Quds al Arabi released on June 12, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) military commander Qasim al Raymi provided details on Sana’a’s May 21 suicide attack. When asked why AQAP targeted Yemeni troops when it claims it is at war with the U.S., Raymi explained that the attack was in retaliation for the Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s campaign against militants in Abyan and demonstrates AQAP’s ability to “bring the attack to them.” He added that the battle for Abyan will continue for years.[2]
  • Yemeni Interior Minister Abdul Qadir Qahtan announced on June 11 that the findings from the investigation of the May 21 Sana’a suicide bombing will be released next week. The attack claimed by AQAP killed over 100 Yemeni soldiers.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Local residents reported that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers, backed by Kenyan troops, clashed with al Shabaab militants near Qoqani in Lower Jubba region. Reports on casualties and injuries have yet to surface.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants recaptured the town of Mahas in Hiraan region on June 11, reported locals. TFG and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a forces withdrew before al Shabaab fighters arrived. Ahlu Sunna official Saney Mohamud Farah stated that the town fell to the militants due to the increased pressure felt from the growing presence of al Shabaab militants on the outskirts of Mahas.[5]
  • Local residents in Galgudud’s Elbur district reported that al Shabaab militants detained at least four people for having alleged links to Ahlu Sunna or the Ethiopian Army on June 12. One of the detainees is the alleged father of an al Shabaab official. Al Shabaab seized control of the city a day earlier following the withdrawal of Ahlu Sunna and Ethiopian troops.[6]
  • Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Somali peacemaker, Abdi Goobe, in Beledweyne in Hiraan region late on June 11. Somali officials in the region announced that they would carry out a search campaign for the assailants who fled the scene undetected.[7]
  • Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that Kenyan troops were preparing for a “final onslaught” on al Shabaab’s financial hub, Kismayo, on June 12. Odinga asked for financial assistance from the U.S. ahead of its planned offensive. Kenya has previously stated that it intends to capture Kismayo by August 2012.[8]
  • Newly trained TFG soldiers have reportedly arrived to Beledweyne in Hiraan region to increase security in the area. Deputy Governor of Hiraan region Adawe Elmi Nur said that the soldiers recently completed a joint TFG-Ethiopian course at Jante Kundisho camp on the city’s outskirts.[9]

[1] Mohammed Mukhashaf, “Yemen Army, in Major Victory, Retakes Two Cities,” Reuters, June 12, 2012. Available:
“Abyan Governorate: 300 Terrorists, Among Them Foreigners, Flee from Jaar, Zinjibar, and Shaqra,” 26 September Net, June 12, 2012. Available:
“The Army and Popular Resistance Committees Control Jaar and Reopen the Aden-Abyan Road,” 26 September Net, June 12, 2012. Available:
“The Army Controls Zinjibar, the Capital of Abyan, and Begins Operation 'Swords of Gold' and Violent Clashes in Shaqra,” Al Masdar Online, June 12, 2012. Available:
[2] “Discussion: Al Qaeda Leader Unveils Interesting Details on the Saba'een Massacre,” Aden al Ghad Net, June 12, 2012. Available:
[3] “Minister to Reveal Outcomes of Investigations into Yemen Parade Bombing Next Week,” Yemen Post, June 11, 2012. Available:
[4] “Somalia: Heavy Fighting between Gov’t, Militants,” Shabelle Media Network, June 12, 2012. Available:
[5] “Al-Shabaab Retakes another Central Somali Town,” Bar Kulan, June 11, 2012. Available:
[6] “Al Shabab Arrests People in El Bur Town, Central Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, June 12, 2012. Available:
[7] “Somali Elder Shot Dead in Central Somalia,” Shabelle Media Network, June 12, 2012. Available:
[8] “Kenya Seeking US aid for Attack on Al-Shabaab Town,” AP, June 12, 2012. Available:
[9] “Newly Trained Somali Forces Arrive at Beledweyne Town,” Shabelle Media Network, June 12, 2012. Available:
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