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: U.S. citizen pleads guilty to attempting to join Ansar al Sharia in Yemen; Yemeni officials blame AQAP for attack on Yemeni military patrol in Aden; al Houthi leaders agree to remove rebel troops near capital of Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Somali government ministers and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a leaders  fail to reach agreement in Galgudud region; AMISOM and Somali offensive against al Shabaab leaves thousands displaced throughout central Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Shelton Thomas Bell, a 20-year-old U.S. civilian, pleaded guilty on March 19 to attempting to travel to Yemen with the intent of joining al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia. Reports indicate that Bell and two other unidentified individuals were inspired to join Ansar al Sharia after watching videos by AQAP’s now deceased spokesperson Anwar al Awlaki. Bell and an unidentified juvenile allegedly began preparations for their trip to Yemen by participating in self-directed combat and weapons training. [1]
  • Local Yemeni officials blamed AQAP for carrying out a March 19 attack on a Yemeni military patrol in Aden, which injured at least two Yemeni soldiers. However, security analysts suggest that the attack may have been carried out by members of the Southern Movement.[2]
  • Al Houthi leaders reportedly agreed to a truce with tribal affiliates of the al Islah party on March 19. Yemeni officials indicate that al Houthi rebels are now beginning to withdraw troops near the capital of Sana’a.[3]

 Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The Somali Minister of Interior and Federalism, Minister of National Security, Minister of Information, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs were unable to broker an agreement with Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a leaders during a meeting in Dhusamareb in Galgudud region on March 19. The government ministers intended to secure the support of the Ahlu Sunna Wa al Jama’a militia during the ongoing AMISOM and Somali offensive against al Shabaab throughout central Somalia.[4]
  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that the AMISOM and Somali offensive against al Shabaab in central Somalia has displaced approximately 46,000 people over the past three weeks. Estimates suggest that, of the displaced Somalis, 1,300 to 1,800 are from Bakool region, 16,000 to 19,000 from Bay region, 540 from Gedo region, and 21,000 from Hiraan region. Additionally, an estimated 4,000 people have relocated to towns such as Hudur in Bakool region and Burdubo in Gedo region. The mass displacement continues to raise humanitarian and security concerns throughout central Somalia.[5]

[1] “Florida man pleads guilty to attempting to join al Qaeda group,” Reuters, March 20, 2014. Available:
[2] “Militants target military in Aden,” Yemen Post, March 19, 2014. Available:
[3]“Houthis fighters agree to stand down after truce is brokered,” Yemen Post, March 19, 2014. Available:
[4] “Disagreement between ASWJ and Federal Government,” Shabelle News, March 20, 2014. Available:
[5] “SOMALIA: Nearly 46,000 of people displaced in the last three weeks from the newly recovered areas,” RBC Radio, March 19, 2014. Available:
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