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: Zawahiri opens a nashid (chant) to followers through AQAP channels; al Houthi-Saleh forces shell Najran city, Saudi Arabia; suspected AQAP gunmen assassinate Hadi government commander; Hadi government forces advance in Ma’rib governorate; protesters demand salary payments in Taiz city; Yemeni Prime Minister declares state of emergency; Hadi government forces kill an al Houthi-Saleh commander in Shabwah governorate, southern Yemen

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab emir Ahmed Umar releases list of goals for the group; al Shabaab militants attack Kenyan forces in Lamu County, Kenya; Puntland Security Forces raid al Shabaab stronghold in El Madow town, Bari region; female jihadist releases new issue of Swahili jihadist magazine for women

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri opened an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)-released nashid (chant) on June 27. Zawahiri began the video by encouraging jihad and praising al Qaeda martyrs. AQAP is acting as a primary conduit for al Qaeda global propaganda.[1]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces launched artillery at Najran city, near the Saudi-Yemeni border on June 27. Saudi sources reported that the shelling wounded two civilians, while al Houthi-Saleh sources claimed that the attack killed several Saudi soldiers. Al Houthi-Saleh forces frequently carry out raids and artillery strikes on Najran region from Sa’ada governorate, northwestern Yemen.[2]

Suspected AQAP gunmen assassinated Yemeni Colonel Qasim Ahmed Ghazi and his assistant Zakaria Hussein Ghazi at al Qatn market in central Hadramawt governorate on June 28. AQAP last attacked President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi government-aligned forces in Hadramawt governorate on June 12.[3]

Forces aligned with the Hadi government gained ground in an offensive against al Houthi-Saleh forces in Sirwah district, Ma’rib governorate on June 28. Military sources reported that Yemeni government soldiers acquired control over most of Marthad mountain. This seven-kilometer mountain range is located between the two main roads leading to Sana’a city. The ongoing offensive in Sirwah is part of shaping operations for a future offensive on Sana’a.[4]  

Taiz-based militias protested over the Hadi government’s distribution of salaries on June 27. Protesters started fires in the streets of central Taiz city, demanding payment and the reinstatement of their names on the government payroll. The Hadi government has delayed many salary payments for nearly 10 months despite allegedly importing billions of Russian-printed riyals on June 1.[5]

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghir declared a public health state of emergency in numerous southern governorates on June 27 in response to the growing cholera crisis. Bin Daghir raised states of emergency in Abyan, Aden, al Dhaleh, Lahij, and Shabwah governorates to enhance cholera reporting and treatment. UNICEF planes delivered 36 tons of medical supplies to Yemen on June 28. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set up treatment centers, rehydration stations, and is subsidizing Yemeni health workers. The WHO reported 218,798 suspected cholera cases and 1,400 associated deaths in Yemen since late April.[6]

Popular resistance militias aligned with the Hadi government killed Abu Murad, an al Houthi-Saleh commander, in Usaylan district, northwest Shabwah governorate on June 28. Hadi government-aligned militias clash with al Houthi-Saleh forces in Usaylan district on a near daily basis. Usalayn district contains a strategic road that connects several governorates in central Yemen.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar (Abu Ubaidah) released a list of local and global objectives on June 26. Al Shabaab intends to unite the Muslim community (umma) under shari’ah law by creating a caliphate. The group also asserted it will counter global “crusader” attacks through jihad and continue to target Ethiopians, dictatorships, and secularist governments.[8]

Al Shabaab conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack targeting a Kenyan police vehicle in Lamu County, Kenya on June 27. The attack killed four police officers and four children. Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility for an unconfirmed ambush on Kenyan forces in Lamu County on June 27. The group claimed it killed 14 Kenyan soldiers in the attack on Lamu.  Al Shabaab also detonated an IED targeting Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in El Wak town along the Kenyan-Somali border on June 27.[9] 

Puntland security forces launched an offensive targeting al Shabaab’s stronghold in El Madow town near Boosaaso, Bari region, northern Somalia on June 26. Puntland security forces reportedly killed approximately 12 al Shabaab militants in the raid. Al Shabaab controls territory in the Galgala mountains south of Boosaaso.[10] 

A female jihadist named Umm Shanshi released the sixth copy of a Swahili jihadi magazine for women entitled “Al-Ghurabaa” on May 24. Umm Shanshi encouraged women to wear hijabs as a religious obligation in the magazine. Shanshi also advised women to teach their children to love jihad in order to raise the future generations of fighters.[11] 

[1] Carry on the weapon of the martyr, Telegram, June 27, 2017.
[2] “Two Saudis Injured in Najran by a Projectile from Yemen,” Aden Tomorrow, June 28, 2017,; and “Rocket and Artillery Bombardment on the Saudi Army in Najran,” Al Masirah, June 27, 2017,
[3] Demolinari, Twitter, June 28, 2017,; Taiz Monitor, Twitter, June 28, 2017,; “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 12, 2017,; and “A colonel and an army assistant were killed by unidentified gunmen in Hadramawt,” Aden Lange, June 28, 2017,
[4] “Government Forces are Advancing to al Multaqa Area on Marthad Mountain in Ma’rib and Achieving Military Gains,” Al Masdar Online, June 28, 2017,
[5] “A military commander survives an assassination attempt and soldiers burn down tires in downtown Taiz,” Al Masdar Online, June 27, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 2, 2017,
[6] “Prime Minister Announces a State of Emergency in the Health Sector in Abyan, Aden, Lahij, and al Dhaleh Governorates,” Sabanew, June 27, 2017;; “UNICEF airlifts lifesaving supplies to Yemen to combat cholera as cases surpass 200,000,” UNICEF, June 28, 2017,; and WHO Yemen, Twitter, June 27, 2017,
[7] “The death of the leader of the al Houthis (Abu Murad) and a number of his companions in Shabwah,” Aden Lange, June 28, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 6, 2017,
[8] C. Azalone, Twitter, June 26, 2017,; and “Profile: Ahmad Umar (Abu Ubaidah),” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, February 17, 2015,
[9] “8 Killed in Bombing in NE Kenya,” Voice of America, June 27, 2017,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI’s Critical Threats Project, June 27, 2017, AEI’s Critical Threats Project.
[10] Shmuel Yosef Agnon, “Puntland Military Operations Destroy Al-Shabaab Bases In Elmadow, Somalia,” Intelligence Briefs, June 27, 2017,
[11] “Female Jihadist Releases Sixth Issue of Swahili Magazine for Women,” SITE Intelligence Group, June 27, 2017, available by subscription at

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