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: American officers survive kidnapping attempt in Sana’a capital; AQAP releases biography of deceased fighter; Yemeni security forces detain French citizens with links to AQAP; suspected AQAP militants stage attack near presidential palace in Sana’a capital; Yemeni security officials announce death of AQAP leaders from the Caucasus and Saudi Arabia; gunmen attack Yemeni security checkpoint near presidential palace in Sana’a capital; SVBIED detonates near police building in Hadramawt governorate; reported U.S. airstrike targets AQAP militants in Ma’rib governorate
Horn of Africa: al Shabaab militants attack AMISOM and SNA forces in Gedo and Lower Shabelle regions; IED explosion targets Somali government forces in Bakool region; al Shabaab opens training in Bay region for Somalis recently deported from Kenya; Somali government forces conduct security operations in Hiraan and Lower Jubba regions
Yemen Security Brief
- Two American officers at the U.S. embassy in Sana’a survived a kidnapping attempt by suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Sana’a capital on April 24. The two Americans, reported as a CIA officer and a Special Operations commando, were attacked while getting haircuts in a barbershop on Heda Street. Witnesses report that one of the Americans killed the two militants, and then both Americans quickly left the scene. After they concluded their investigation, Yemeni officials granted the Americans permission to leave Yemen.
- AQAP released a biography of deceased Saudi fighter Abu Ghazi al Shamari to its “Nafeh al Teeb” Twitter account on April 30. Shamari traveled from Saudi Arabia to Yemen in order to join AQAP’s insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, and was killed during recent clashes with Yemeni security forces in Abyan governorate.
- Yemeni security forces arrested two French citizens on suspicion of belonging to an AQAP militant cell based in Hadramawt governorate on May 8. The two men were identified as French citizens of Tunisian origin Mourad Abdulla Abad and Taha al Issawi. Further details regarding the incident remain unclear.
- Suspected AQAP militants attacked the main gate of the presidential palace in Sana’a capital on May 9. The attack, which purportedly targeted Yemeni Defense Minister Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, resulted in the death of at least four Yemeni soldiers and at least three militants.
- The Yemeni Defense Ministry announced on May 9 the death of two AQAP militants killed in recent clashes with Yemeni security forces in Abyan and Shabwah governorates. The two men were identified as AQAP leader from the Caucuses Taymour al Dagestani and Saudi national Torki Abdul Rahman.
- Unidentified gunmen attacked a Yemeni security checkpoint near the presidential palace in Sana’a capital on May 11. At least three gunmen were killed and one was wounded in the attack. Additional reports indicate that a Saudi citizen was also inadvertently killed in the attack.
- A suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) detonated near a Yemeni military police building in al Mukalla city in Hadramawt governorate on May 11. The blast killed at least ten Yemeni soldiers and one civilian and wounded at least 15 additional soldiers.
- A reported U.S. airstrike targeted a vehicle driving through Husoun al Jalal village in Wadi Abeidah in Ma’rib governorate on May 12. At least six AQAP fighters were killed in the strike.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Al Shabaab militants attacked an AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) base in Burdubo in Gedo region on May 11. The Ethiopian AMISOM and SNA troops manning the base eventually repelled the attack. At least four were killed and many more wounded during the fighting. Separately, al Shabaab militants ambushed an AMISOM convoy near Qoryole in Lower Shabelle region on May 11. The ensuing confrontation inflicted an unspecified number of casualties to both sides.
- An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in the Wajid district of Bakool region on May 11. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, reports indicate that the blast, which killed two people, appeared to target local Somali security forces. Following the incident, the security forces launched search operations in the district, restricting the movement of residents and interrupting local business.
- An al Shabaab-affiliated radio station announced the opening of a military training course in Bay region for twenty Somalis recently deported from Kenya. Senior al Shabaab official Sheikh Fu’ad Mohamed Shongole encouraged the recruits to embrace the military training in order to exact revenge against Kenyan troops operating in Somalia. Separately, al Shabaab officials granted eight clan elders in Middle Jubba region AK-47 assault rifles and military uniforms as reward for supporting the group. An al Shabaab official stated that the clan leaders fought for al Shabaab and contributed livestock and money to the group’s cause.
- Somali government forces conducted a security operation in the Bulo-Burde district of Hiraan region on May 10. The government forces halted public transportation and arrested over fifty people during the operation, which was intended to enhance security throughout the district. Separately, Jubbaland security forces conducted security operations in Kismayo in Lower Jubba region on May 12. The security forces reportedly detained an unspecified number of criminals, suspected to be members of al Shabaab, and seized illicit substances during the operation.