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 militants holding Swiss woman demand that bin Laden’s wives go free; U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman warns that Iran and al Qaeda are exploiting political uncertainty in Yemen; Republican Guards bombard tribal areas in Arhab; jihadist dedicates remote-controlled car bomb manual to Ansar al Sharia; Yemeni policemen rescue 21 Ethiopians being held hostage in Hajjah

Horn of Africa: Somali official calls on “brainwashed” youths fighting for al Shabaab to surrender to TFG forces within seven days; seven people arrested in Baidoa on suspicion of threatening stability; unknown assailants throw hand grenades at TFG official’s home in Baidoa; Kenyan military releases detained TFG officials

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants holding a Swiss woman captive increased their demands to have her released. They called for the release of Osama bin Laden’s widows, who are being held in Pakistan, the release of several women being held in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and “the release of 100 Al-Qaeda affiliated militants from Yemeni jails and 50 million euros (66 million dollars).” Mediation efforts failed, according to a tribal negotiator, because of the “prohibitive demands.” The Swiss woman was kidnapped on March 14 in al Hudaydah, where she taught at a foreign language institute.[1]
  • Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said in a Sana’a press conference on March 28 that Iran and al Qaeda are trying to exploit the unstable situation in Yemen. He said that the U.S. is concerned about “reports of rising Iranian influence in parts of Yemen,” indicating that it was part of a pattern: “Iran tries to exploit uncertainty and unhappiness in countries of the region.” Likewise, Feltman said that al Qaeda was trying its best to “exploit opportunities where there is political chaos.”[2]
  • The Republican Guards launched an artillery bombardment of tribal areas in Arhab district north of Sana’a on March 28. The number of casualties is not yet known.[3]
  • A jihadist posted a manual on how to construct a remote-controlled vehicle used to deliver an IED on the al Fida’ forum on March 24. He presented the manual as “a gift to the brothers in Ansar al-Shariah.” A similar device has been constructed by Ansar al Islam in Iraq.[4]
  • Yemeni policemen were able to rescue 21 Ethiopian illegal immigrants being held captive by gunmen in Hajjah governorate. The Ethiopians were tortured by their captors, who demanded that their relatives in Saudi Arabia send ransom money. Three of the captors were arrested when Yemeni police stormed the house in which they were staying.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed, a Somali MP, announced on March 28 that “brainwashed” youths fighting for al Shabaab have seven days to surrender to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Mohamed said that if they do so, they will have amnesty from prosecution.[6]
  • Baidoa’s police chief, Adan Ahmed Omar, announced that his men arrested seven people on March 28 who were suspected of “threatening…law and order” in the area. Baidoa is the capital of Bay region.[7]
  • Unknown assailants threw hand grenades at the home of the TFG’s Hudur district commissioner in Bay region.  No figure of casualties from the attack, which took place on March 28, was released.[8]
  • The Kenyan military released TFG officials detained in Lower Jubba region last week because of rifts with the Ras Kamboni Brigades on March 28. Mohammed Amin Abdullahi, a Somali MP, stated that the prisoners were “physically abused” and released after a request by the Somali government.[9]      

[1] “Swiss Woman’s Yemen Captors Want OBL Wives Freed,” AFP, March 29, 2012. Available:
[2] “Iran and al-Qaeda Exploit Yemen Uncertainty: U.S. Mideast Convoy,” AFP, March 28, 2012. Available:
[3] “Army Shells Tribal Posts Near Sana’a,” Yemen Post, March 28, 2012. Available:
[4] “Jihadist Dedicates RC Car Bomb Manual to Ansar al-Shariah,” SITE Intelligence Group, March 28, 2012. Available at SITE.
[5] “Yemen Frees Ethiopians Held by Gunman Seeking Ransom,” Reuters, March 29, 2012. Available:
“21 Ethiopians Who Were Detained by Smugglers Freed,” Yemen Ministry of Interior, March 29, 2012. Available:
[6] “TFG Gives Militant Fighters 7 Days Ultimatum to Surrender,” Radio Bar-Kulan, March 28, 2012. Available:
[7] “Seven Arrested in Baidoa, Bay Region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, March 29, 2012. Available:
[8] “Hudur District Commissioner House Attacked by Grenades,” Shabelle Media Network, March 28, 2012. Available:
[9] “Kenyan Military Releases Somali Government Officials from Jail,” Shabelle Media Network, March 28, 2012. Available:
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