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: Prominent al Houthi religious scholar and former Yemeni health minister die in Sana’a; al Houthis shell residential neighborhoods in al Hudaydah

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab overruns SNA base in central Somalia; defected al Shabaab commander dies from poisoning in south-central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Houthi President of the Supreme Political Council Mahdi al Mashat acknowledged the death of prominent al Houthi religious scholar Hussein Majd al Din al Mu’ayadi on June 4. Mashat stated that Mu’ayadi died of a “painful illness,” without providing additional details. Local Yemeni media reported that Mu’ayadi died of the coronavirus in the al Houth-held Yemeni capital of Sana’a on June 4. The former Yemeni health minister, Thabet Mohsin Nasher, died of the coronavirus in Sana’a on the same day. The internationally recognized Yemeni government has confirmed 95 deaths in Yemen from the virus as of June 4. The al Houthi movement has only reported one virus-related death as of mid-May. [1]

Al Houthi militants shelled residential neighborhoods with artillery in Hays and al Tahita districts in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen on June 4. The al Houthi movement previously targeted residential neighborhoods in Hays district on June 3.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

Al Shabaab militants overran a Somali National Army (SNA) base near Balad town in central Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region on June 4. Local witnesses reported al Shabaab militants openly patrolling the town following the attack. Al Shabaab killed 12 SNA soldiers in an assault on the SNA’s El Salini military base in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region in late February.[3]

A defected al Shabaab commander died from poisoning in south-central Somalia’s Bay region on May 29, according to local Somali reporting. The militant commander previously supervised al Shabaab’s operations in southern Somalia’s South West State for almost a decade and served as a bodyguard for high-ranking militants. He defected from al Shabaab in 2017 for unknown reasons. No group has claimed responsibility for his death. Al Shabaab executed a defected al Shabaab Amniyat(intelligence) officer in Buale in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region in early March.[4]

[1] “President condoles on death of Hussein bin Majd al-Din al-Mu’ayadi,” Saba, June 4, 2020,; “Corona kills prominent Houthi official and minister of health acknowledges overcrowding of hospitals,” Khabar Agency, June 4, 2020,; “Former Yemeni health minister dies of COVID-19,” The Debriefer, June 4, 2020,; and “First death of Yemeni minister from coronavirus,” Mareb Press, June 4, 2020,; and “Yemen gov’t accuses Houthis of covering up coronavirus outbreak,” Al Jazeera, May 18, 2020,

[2] “Al Houthi militia bombs civilian homes in Hays,” 7adramout, June 4, 2020; “Houthis shell civilian villages and farms with various weapons in mountain town,” Al Amalika, June 4, 2020,

[3] “Military base overrun by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia,” Garowe, June 6, 2020,; and Minatullah Alobaidi, Pamela Makadsi, and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 19, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 19, 2020,

[4] Abuga Makori, “Al-Shabaab holds ‘graduation’ ceremony as ex-commander is poisoned in Somalia,” Garowe, June 3, 2020,; Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum,  “Gulf of Aden Security Review - March 11, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 11, 2020,

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