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: Saudi diplomat kidnapped in Aden; artillery bombardment in Arhab district kills two civilians; four militants killed during artillery barrage north of Zinjibar

Horn of Africa: British citizen suspected of trying to join al Shabaab arrested at Mogadishu airport; clashes between TFG, backed by Kenyans, and al Shabaab in Hosingow; two senior TFG officials assassinated in Mogadishu; Somali president visits troops in Adado; al Shabaab scholars praise merger with al Qaeda and warn Muslims against the United Nations

Yemen Security Brief

  • Abdullah al Khaldi, the deputy counsel at the Saudi consulate in Aden, was kidnapped on his way to work. No details as to the identity of his captors were given. Khaldi is the first Saudi diplomat to be kidnapped in Yemen.[1]
  • Two civilians were killed on March 27 during an artillery bombardment of a suspected militant hideout in Arhab district in northern Sana’a governorate. The attack injured several people.[2]
  • On March 27, Yemen’s 201st Mechanized Brigade launched an artillery bombardment on suspected Ansar al Sharia positions north of Zinjibar, killing at least four militants.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Clive Everton Dennis, a 45-year-old British citizen, was arrested by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) at Mogadishu’s airport on March 27. He was carrying “suspicious metal” in his luggage, as well as hundreds of CDs and “things that looked like powder.” Dennis had traveled to Ethiopia in 2010. He said that he was on his way to Kismayo “to help suffering Muslims,” said the prime minister’s spokesman, Abdirahman Osman. "This makes us think he is a foreigner who wants to fight with al-Qaeda, who may be from al-Qaeda, or who may at least be ready to cause us problems."[4]
  • Clashes broke out overnight between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops, backed by Kenyan forces, and al Shabaab militants in Hosingow. The fighting began after militants fired mortars at joint TFG-Kenyan positions. Four al Shabaab militants and two TFG troops were killed.[5]
  • Two senior TFG officials were gunned down in separate incidents on the evening of March 27 in Mogadishu. One, only identified as Yasin, worked at Villa Somalia; the other, Muhaydin Wehliye Ageey, was an official at Mogadishu’s Criminal Investigation Department. The identity of the assassins is not known.[6]
  • TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed visited Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a and Ethiopian troops in Adado, a town in Galgudud region, on March 27. He was there to witness developments in the fight against al Shabaab and exhorted the men of Ahlu Sunna to fight until peace came to the country.[7]
  • Scholars of al Shabaab praised the group’s merger with al Qaeda in a statement posted on jihadist forums on March 18. They mentioned that the merger was reflective of three injunctions found in the Qur’an and the Hadith: unity between Muslims, the restoration of the caliphate, and the defense of Muslim lands. The scholars criticize the United Nations, citing articles from the UN Charter line by line and calling the UN a “false witness” and “hostile to Islam.” The statement read, “[T]he UN is the one who established the Jewish presence in Palestine, the Crusader presence in Afghanistan, and the Crusader occupation of Iraq…” Further, the scholars accuse the UN of “supporting the AMISOM Crusader forces,” being behind the Kenyan and Ethiopian “occupation,” and conspiring to take over Somalia. Finally, the scholars warn Muslims not to be taken in by “this disbelieving organization.”[8]    

[1] “Saudi Diplomat Kidnapped in Southern Yemen,” AP, March 28, 2012. Available:
[2] “2 Killed in Northern Yemen in Military Attack on Suspected Militia Hideout,” AP, March 27, 2012. Available:
[3] “Yemeni Army Killed 4 al-Qaida Militants in Southern Province,” Xinhua, March 28, 2012. Available:
[4] Clar Ni Chonghaile, “Briton Held in Mogadishu was ‘Carrying Suspicious Materials,” Guardian, March 28, 2012. Available:
Mike Pflanz, “British Man Arrested in Somalia on Suspicion of Links to al-Qaeda,” Telegraph, March 27, 2012. Available:
[5] “Kenya, Somali Forces Clash with Al-Shabab, 6 Killed,” Shabelle Media Network, March 28, 2012. Available:
[6] “Gunmen Gun Down Senior TFG Officials in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, March 28, 2012. Available:
[7] “Somali President Seen on Front Lines in Fight against Militants,” Shabelle Media Network, March 27, 2012. Available:
[8] “Shabaab Scholars Bless Union with al-Qaeda, Warn against UN,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 27, 2012. Available at SITE.
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