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: Yemeni military continues advance on Zinjibar and Lawder cities; airstrikes kill three militants in Hadramawt; 20 Ansar al Sharia militants allegedly infiltrate Taiz governorate; jihadist releases a picture of the February 15 Ma’rib suicide bomber; Yemeni cleric delivers sermon encouraging support for AQAP

Horn of Africa: Somali parliamentarian expects TFG forces to capture Hudur shortly; al Shabaab militants attack TFG and Ahlu Sunna forces in Gedo region; Somali jihadist releases the first part of an Omar Hammami autobiography; Kenyan police arrest man in connection with Mombasa nightclub bombing; three TFG soldiers killed during infighting in Mogadishu; military court in Somaliland sentences 17 people to death; Puntland delegation leaves constitutional convention in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Yemeni military officials stated that Yemeni troops are advancing cautiously into Zinjibar city in Abyan governorate for fear of surprise attacks by Ansar al Sharia militants. Yemeni officials reported that Yemeni intelligence on Zinjibar is poor, and that military commanders were unsure whether Ansar al Sharia militants had retreated or have been killed. Yemeni officials reported that the bodies 11 Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen had been found in Lawder and that it is believed they were killed execution-style. The officials added that “most of the areas surrounding Lawder are clear of al-Qaida now.”[1]
  • A suspected U.S. drone strike targeted two vehicles in Shibam in Hadramawt governorate killing three militants and wounding two others.[2]
  • The Yemeni Interior Ministry reported that the security apparatus is searching for 20 Ansar al Sharia militants in Mawiah in Taiz governorate in a May 16 statement. The statement does not provide any details on how the militants were able to infiltrate Taiz, a governorate which has a relatively low al Qaeda-linked militant presence.[3]
  • A jihadist posted a picture of Ma’rib suicide bomber and Ansar al Sharia member Abu Naseer al Saya’ari on jihadist forums on May 15. The attack was carried out on February 15, 2012 and, according to Ansar al Sharia, killed 12 Yemeni soldiers. Other reports, however, stated that one Yemeni soldier was killed and five others were wounded. Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s media arm, claimed responsibility for the attack in its 10th issue and claimed it was in retaliation for the death of one of its members, Hajj Saeed bin Kharsan.[4]
  • Nokhba Jihadi Media released a video of a sermon given by Yemeni cleric Awad Muhammad Ba Nijar on jihadist forums on May 13. In the sermon titled, “Yemen: How it Was, What it Has Become, and What are the Dangers that Threaten It?” Nijar calls on Yemenis to support al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Nijar adds that implementing shari’a law and eliminating elements of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime is the only way for Yemen to prosper.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Ahmed Sheikh Mohammed, a member of Somalia’s parliament, announced that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces are advancing on al Shabaab-held villages on the outskirts of Hudur, the capital of Bakool region. He also stated that he expected Hudur itself to fall to the TFG “within hours.”[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants reportedly attacked TFG troops and Ahlu Sunna fighters in and around Garbaharey in Gedo region overnight. The militants were successfully repulsed. Two civilians were killed during the clashes.[7]
  • A Somali jihadist posted what he claims to be the first part of a genuine autobiography by Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansour al Amriki, on Scribd on May 16. The text, entitled “The Story of an American Jihaadi” is 128 pages long and describes Hammami’s personal journey to Salafism. It ends with his joining al Shabaab in Somalia.[8]
  • Kenyan police arrested a man suspected of being involved in the May 15 attack on a Mombasa nightclub. He was one of the five people injured in the attack. He was found at a Mombasa bus station, intending to leave the city for Nairobi, when police officers found a loaded magazine in his luggage.[9]
  • Three TFG soldiers were killed during infighting caused by disagreements over vehicles stolen from civilians on the night of May 16 in Mogadishu. The disagreement escalated into a gunfight between TFG soldiers and policemen in Somalia at Hawl Wadag junction, causing street closures in the capital city.[10]
  • A military court in Somaliland sentenced 17 people to death on May 16 after they confessed to attacking a military base over a land dispute the previous day. Eight people,including three soldiers, were killed in the attack. Demonstrators in Hargeisa, the capital of Somailand, protested the court's ruling.[11]
  • Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole explained that the Puntland delegation to the traditional elders’ conference in Mogadishu, which was convened to draft a new constitution for the country, left because the draft constitution is insufficiently federalist.[12]     

[1] “Yemen Army Pushing into South al-Qaida Stronghold,” AP, May 17, 2012. Available:
[2] “Yemen Army Pushing into South al-Qaida Stronghold,” AP, May 17, 2012. Available:
[3] “Interior Ministry Announces the Pursuit of 20 al Qaeda Militants in Taiz and the Army Continues Its Operations in Abyan with American Support,” Al Masdar Online, May 16, 2012. Available:
[4] “Jihadist Gives Picture of Marib Suicide Bomber,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 16, 2012. Available at SITE.
[5] “Nokhba Jihadi Media Releases Video of Cleric’s Sermon on Yemen,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 16, 2012. Available at SITE.
[6] “Somalia Forces Advance on Rebel-Held Villages Near Hudur, Bakol Region,” Shabelle Media Network, May 17, 2012. Available:
[7] “Gov’t Forces Clash with Al Shabab Militants In Gedo Region,” Shabelle Media Network, May 17, 2012. Available:
[8] “Somali Jihadist Releases Part One of Alleged Hammami Autobiography,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 16, 2012. Available at SITE.
Abu Mansour al Amriki, “The Story of an American Jihaadi: Part One.” Available:
[9] “Kenya: Man Arrested Over Deadly Attack on Mombasa Club,” BBC, March 16, 2012. Available:
[10] “3 Dead as Government Soldiers Exchange Gunfire in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, May 17, 2012. Available:
[11] “Somaliland Court Sentences 17 to Death for Attack,” AP, May 17, 2012. Available:
[12] “Puntland Speaks the Motive Behind Delegates Quit from Mogadishu Meeting,” Shabelle Media Network, May 17, 2012. Available:
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