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: Yemen army and tribesmen clash with Ansar al Sharia in Zinjibar and Lawder; U.S. Executive Order to freeze assets of those inhibiting political transition; al Qaeda’s leader urges Yemenis to continue their revolution; foreign ambassadors seek support of Yemeni presidential decrees

Horn of Africa: Assailants carry out hand grenade attack at Mombasa nightclub; al Shabaab militants raid Elbur and Garbaharey in separate attacks; unknown gunmen assassinate TFG official in Baidoa; three al Shabaab suspects arrested in Dhobley; American ambassador to the UN affirms importance of political transition in Somalia; al Shabaab releases 15 communiqués detailing the group’s attacks and activities

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni military officials reported that clashes between the Popular Resistance Committee (a coalition of armed tribesmen), backed by the Yemeni army, and Ansar al Sharia militants killed 13 militants and two tribesmen in Jabal Yusuf near Lawder in Abyan governorate. Four soldiers were also killed by hit-and-run attacks carried out by Ansar al Sharia militants near Zinjibar.[1]
  • President Barack Obama signed an executive order authorizing the U.S. Treasury Department to freeze the U.S.-based assets of any person or organization that is “obstructing” Yemen’s political transition. The order is designed to deter individuals or organizations from pursuing such actions. UN special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar and U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald M. Feierstein have hinted previously that those who prevented the political transition process from moving forward could face sanctions.[2]
  • The leader of al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan, Ayman al Zawahiri, called on Yemenis to continue their revolution against the government. His statement is titled, “Yemen Between a Departing Agent and a Deputy Agent,” and was released on jihadist forums on May 15 by al Qaeda’s media arm, as Sahab. In the video, Zawahiri accuses Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of representing and acting on behalf of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Zawahiri also denounced accusations that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had colluded with Saleh while in office. The video also features several clips from Anwar al Awlaki’s lecture from November 2010 on American influence in Yemen.[3]
  • Ambassadors from the ten states sponsoring the Gulf of Cooperation Council (GCC) power transfer deal in Yemen reportedly met with commander of the Republican Guard Ahmed Saleh on May 15. A Saudi newspaper reported that the ambassadors pressed Ahmed Saleh to abide by official decrees from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The ambassadors also set a 48-hour deadline to end the rebellion staged by Yemen’s 3rd Armored Brigade against Hadi’s April 6 appointment of Abdul Rahman al Halili, according to the report.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Assailants threw hand grenades outside of the Bella Vista sports bar in Mombasa in Kenya on May 15, killing one person and wounding five others. They had attempted to enter the nightclub, but when guards attempting to frisk them, they opened fire and threw grenades. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. A manhunt for the perpetrators is currently underway.[5]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked an Ethiopian and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a base on the outskirts of Elbur in Galgudud region on the night of May 15. An Ahlu Sunna official reported that two militants were killed and two others wounded, and added that there were no casualties on his side. In another attack the same night, al Shabaab militants raided Garbaharey in Gedo region and shelled the town, destroying the town’s only water pump. Three militants were reported killed.[6]
  •  Unknown gunmen assassinated Aden Heydar, the Transitional Federal Government’s (TFG) commissioner of Berdale, outside of his home in Baidoa in Bay region.[7]
  • Three suspected al Shabaab militants were arrested in Dhobley in Lower Jubba region, which is near the Kenyan border. TFG officials alleged that the suspects, including a woman, were planning attacks in the area as well as across the border into Kenya.[8]
  • U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Susan E. Rice addressed the end of the TFG’s mandate on August 20, stating that “[a]ny delay implementing the transition is totally unacceptable,” in a United Nations Security Council briefing on May 15. Rice also emphasized the strong American commitment to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and to Somali stability.[9]
  • Al Shabaab posted 15 communiqués on jihadist forums, ten on May 11 and five on May 14, claiming responsibility for various attacks and activities. A communiqué praises the assassination of a high-ranking Burundian official in Mogadishu’s Daynile district on May 8. Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility for shelling Villa Somalia, the presidential palace in Mogadishu, on May 4. Additionally, militants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Mogadishu’s Karan neighborhood on May 4, killing nine TFG soldiers.[10]          

[1] “Yemen: 19 Killed in Clashes with al-Qaida Fighters,” AP, May 16, 2012. Available:
[2] Karen DeYoung, “President Obama Executive Order Gives Treasury Authority to Freeze Yemeni Assets in U.S.,” Washington Post, March 16, 2012. Available:
“Executive Order – Blocking Property of Persons Threatening the Peace, Security, or Stability of Yemen,” White House Press Office, March 16, 2012. Available:
[3] “Zawahiri Calls for Continued Revolution in Yemen,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 15, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] “Ambassadors from the Ten States Meet with Ahmed Ali and Give Him 48 Hours to End the Rebellion in the Third Brigade,” Al Masdar Online, May 16, 2012. Available:
“As Rebellion against Hadi’s Decrees Continues, Diplomats Sponsoring GCC Meet Saleh’s Son,” Yemen Post, May 16, 2012. Available:
[5] James Marcharia, “One Killed in Grenade Blast in Kenyan Coastal City of Mombasa,” The Independent, May 16, 2012. Available:
“Kenyan Police Manhunt for Mombasa Grenade Attackers,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 16, 2012. Available:
[6] Al-Shabaab Raids Military Bases in El-bur Town, Galgadud Region,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 16, 2012. Available:
[7] “Two People Killed Separately in Mogadishu, Baidoa,” Shabelle Media Network, May 16, 2012. Available:
[8] “Three Suspected Militants Arrested in Dobley, Near Kenya,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 16, 2012. Available:
[9] Susan E. Rice, “Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,” Department of State, May 15, 2015. Available:
[10] “Shabaab Reports Killing High-Ranking Burundian Officer, Other Attacks,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 15, 2012. Available at SITE.
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