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. Department of State issues statement on Socotra island; Emirati-backed al Hizam security forces clash with AQAP militants in Abyan governorate; al Houthi forces launch a ballistic missile targeting Saudi information headquarters in Najran region, Saudi Arabia

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab releases lecture from deceased al Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al Libi; U.S.-backed Somali forces raid farm near Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region; al Shabaab conducts two explosive attacks in southern Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

The U.S. Department of State issued a statement on Socotra on May 9. The U.S. called for respect for the sovereignty of Yemen’s internationally recognized government under Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and territorial integrity of Yemen. The U.S. Department of State emphasized the need for dialogue to de-escalate the situation on Socotra Island and for all parties in the conflict to adhere to the UN-led peace process. The UAE deployed more than 100 troops and several armored vehicles to Socotra on May 2, drawing condemnation from the Hadi government and pro-Hadi southern political groups.[1]

Emirati-backed al Hizam Security Forces claimed to secure Wadi Hareem in Khabr al Muraqisha area after clashes with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants on May 10. Khabr al Muraqisha is northeast of Zinjibar city in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen. Al Hizam Security Forces frequently conduct operations against AQAP militants in Abyan governorate.[2]

Al Houthi forces fired a Badr 1 short-range ballistic missile targeting a Saudi information headquarters in Najran region in southern Saudi Arabia on May 9. Colonel Turki al Maliki, the Saudi-led coalition spokesman, announced that the missile landed in an unpopulated desert area in Najran on May 9.[3] 

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Al Shabaab’s al Kitab Media Foundation released a lecture from deceased al Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al Libi on May 6. Abu Yahya al Libi called on supporters to seek jihad for religious purposes, not fame. Al Kitab Media Foundation has released three videos featuring deceased al Qaeda leaders since April 21.[4] 

U.S.-backed Somali forces raided a banana farm between Baladul Amin and Afgoi in Lower Shabelle region, south of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, on May 9. Al Shabaab claimed that U.S.-backed Somali forces killed fifteen civilians during a raid near Barire town in Lower Shabelle region, which probably referenced the same raid.[5]

Al Shabaab conducted two explosive attacks in southern Somalia on May 9 and 10. An al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vest targeting a qat market in Wanlaweyn town in northern Lower Shabelle region on May 9. The attack killed at least 14 people and wounded 15 others. Al Shabaab militants also detonated an improvised explosive device targeting Somali National Army (SNA) forces in Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba region, on May 10. Kismayo is a strategic port city for the charcoal trade. Al Shabaab used the port to fund its activities until SNA and partner forces recaptured the city in 2012.[6]

[1] “Situation on the Yemeni Island of Socotra,” U.S. Department of State, May 9, 2018,
[2] “The al Hizam Security forces are launching a large-scale attack on al Qaeda gatherings in Hareem Valley in Abyan,” Aden Lang, May 10, 2018,; “Killed and wounded in an attack by al Hizam Security Forces targeting al Qaeda gathering in Abyan,” Aden Tomorrow, May 10, 2018,; and “The fall of Hareem valley, a gathering of al Qaeda members in Khabr al Muraqisha with the al Hizam Security Forces in Abyan,” 7adramaout, May 10, 2018,
[3] “Launch of a ballistic missile on the information and electronic headquarters in Najran,” Saba, May 9, 2018,; “A few hours after targeting economic targets in Riyadh, Badr 1 ballistic missile targets information and electronic warfare headquarters in Najran,” Al Masirah, May 9, 2018,; and “Joint Coalition Forces Command RSADF Monitor Rocket of a kind of Badr fired on Najran and fell in Desert Area,” SPA, May 9, 2018,
[4] Shabaab Issues Series of Videos Highlighting Lectures from Past AQ Leaders, SITE, May 8, 2018, available by subscription at
[5] “Special forces conduct an operation near Afgoi, kill five,” Radio Shabelle, May 10, 2018,; Al Shabaab claims attacks in southern Somalia, Telegram, May 10, 2018. 
[6] Al Shabaab claims attacks in southern Somalia, Telegram, May 9-10, 2018; and “May 10, 2018 Morning Headlines,” Somalia Media Monitoring, May 10, 2018,

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