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 releases statement and video refuting Yemeni military victories in al Bayda, Abyan, and Shabwah governorates; AQAP releases video footage of attack in Hadramawt governorate; clashes between al Houthi rebels, Salafi al Islah party tribesmen, and the Yemeni military continue in the Amran governorate; AQAP releases video footage of the confessions and executions of four alleged spies that assisted previous US drone strikes in the Shabwah governorate
Horn of Africa: IEDs detonate in Hargeisa and Mogadishu; unidentified assailants ambush local security forces in Middle Shabelle region; unidentified assailants conduct grenade attack in Kenya’s North Eastern Province; Kenyan police kill two suspected al Shabaab militants in Kenya’s North Eastern Province; AMISOM and SNA forces clash with al Shabaab militants in Bakool, Banadir, and Galgudud regions
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) media arm, al Malahem Media Foundation, released both a video and a statement entitled, “A Comment on the Latest American Bombardment of Yemen,” to YouTube and jihadi forums on May 26. Jalal al Marqishi, the leader of AQAP’s Ansar al Sharia in Zinjibar in Abyan governorate, refuted American “bombardment campaigns” that happened “last week” in al Bayda, Abyan, and Shabwah governorates. He also denied that Yemeni security forces killed three militants traveling in an AQAP vehicle in the Shabwah governorate. During the Yemeni army’s offensive against AQAP in Yemen’s south, the Yemeni Ministry of Defense reported that the Yemeni military killed five AQAP militants, including a commander known as Miqdad, in Shabwah governorate on May 18. Marqishi concluded that AQAP’s jihad will continue against the U.S. and Yemen.
- AQAP’s al Malahem Media Foundation released an untitled video to YouTube on May 28. It shows AQAP fighters planning and conducting a raid on Hinan checkpoint in Hadramawt governorate and an AQAP “medical evacuation team” carrying wounded away the location. AQAP claimed that al Houthi soldiers were present at the location. AQAP did not announce the operation’s date, but past media reports indicated that militant attacks on the 37th Armored Brigade at Hinan checkpoint on April 4 killed five people.
- Clashes between Houthi militants and tribesmen affiliated with al Islah party, supported by Yemeni army units, killed an estimated 12 people in Amran city in Amran governorate on May 30, according to tribal sources. An anonymous Yemeni official noted that five tribesmen and at least seven Houthis, including a leader, were killed. On June 1, Yemeni military officials stated that Houthi militants attempted to overrun several military outposts to reassert their control in Amran governorate on May 31. They added that Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi tasked a mediation committee with brokering a truce with Abdel Malik al Houthi, the leader of the al Houthi rebels. On June 2, local reports indicated that violent clashes have erupted near the main military base in the Amran governorate. Local media has also reported warplanes have been seen in the vicinity of the governorate.
- AQAP’s Malahem Media Foundation, released a video entitled, “Harvest of Spies,” to YouTube on May 31. The video contains footage of the confessions of four spies that AQAP accused of planting electronic chips in AQAP vehicles, which aided U.S. drones in targeting AQAP militants two years ago in the Shabwah governorate. AQAP announced that it had executed the four men in the video. A man identified as Abu Islam al Muhajir, an AQAP security official, added that the group had discovered "several spies who give them (drones) direction on the ground by putting chips in the cars of the mujahideen (fighters).” Further details regarding this event remain unclear. A clip of this video was leaked to YouTube at the end of April.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated near a hotel in the Shibis district of Mogadishu on May 31. The Director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), Bashir Mohamed Jama Gobe, was meeting with government officials in the hotel at the time of the explosion. Although Gobe and the government officials within the hotel were unharmed, at least one person was killed by the blast. Despite no claim of responsibility, Somali security officials blamed al Shabaab for carrying out the attack. Separately, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Hargeisa in the Wooqooyi Galbeed region of Somaliland on June 1. The explosion reportedly occurred near the Somaliland Justice Ministry, injuring a local security officer. Somaliland security forces later arrested two suspects in connection with the blast, although it remains unclear if the individuals are affiliated with any specific group.
- Unidentified assailants ambushed local security officers on patrol in Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region on May 31. The assailants reportedly threw a grenade at the patrol vehicle, injuring two security officers. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, local security officials blamed al Shabaab. The local security forces later conducted a search operation throughout Jowhar, arresting at least twenty people identified as suspected al Shabaab militants.
- Unidentified assailants threw a grenade at a garage near an office building in Garissa in Kenya’s North Eastern Province on May 31. The assailants reportedly targeted a group of mechanics with the explosive, killing one and injuring four more. Separately, an unidentified gunman killed a prominent Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdirashi, outside a mosque in Garissa on June 1. Despite recent al Shabaab activity in Kenya, Kenyan police stated that al Shabaab is not believed to have carried out the killing of Sheikh Abdirashi.
- Kenyan police killed two suspected al Shabaab militants in Mandera in Kenya’s North Eastern Province on June 1. The police reportedly received intelligence from the Kenyan military that a group of militants crossed over from Somalia with the objective of carrying out an attack. The killings sparked civil unrest in Mandera as local residents demonstrated against the police, claiming that the individuals killed were legitimate religious leaders.
- AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) forces attacked al Shabaab bases near Ato in Bakool region on June 1. A local government official reported that the AMISOM and SNA forces seized control of the area, killing 46 al Shabaab militants and capturing 12 others. Separately, AMISOM and SNA forces attacked al Shabaab militants near Elbur in Galgudud region on June 2. Local government officials reported that at least six al Shabaab militants were killed and as many as 14 others captured during the offensive. Finally, al Shabaab militants attacked AMISOM and SNA forces in Mogadishu on May 31. The confrontation reportedly killed one person and wounded several others, although the affiliation of the casualties remains unclear.