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: Al Houthi-Saleh alliance violates detainees’ rights, reports Amnesty International; Kuwaiti Emir meets with Hadi government delegation; al Houthi-Saleh forces and Hadi government rebuff southern soldiers’ demands for overdue salaries

Horn of Africa: Pro-ISIS militants release Swahili-language video reportedly filmed in Tanzania; Kenyan ATPU officers arrest suspected al Shabaab member with IED components in Lamu County, Kenya; SNA and AMISOM troops conduct clearing operations outside Dinsoor, Bay region; NISA officers kill suspected al Shabaab militant in Heliwa district, Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Amnesty International reported an ongoing campaign of detentions and human rights violations by al Houthi forces and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh against their political opponents. Amnesty International had investigated approximately 60 cases that had occurred between December 2014 and March 2016 in which al Houthi-Saleh forces detained politicians, journalists and others in the capital Sana’a and parts of Taiz, Ibb and al Hudaydah governorates. Al Houthi-Saleh forces denied detainees’ access to lawyers and familial visits and imprisoned them for up to 17 months at a time without charge or trial. Some former detainees reported incidents of physical torture, including beatings and the administration of electric shocks.[1]
  • Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah met with Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation on May 18. Al Ahmad reiterated Kuwait’s support for Yemen in the UN-led peace talks and stressed that Kuwait would attempt to convince the al Houthi and General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation to resume negotiations. President Hadi’s delegation suspended its participation in the talks on May 17 after the al Houthi-GPC delegation did not agree to the UN’s agenda for the talks.[2]
  • Al Houthi-Saleh forces prevented southern Yemeni soldiers from entering the capital Sana’a on May 18. The soldiers traveled to Sana’a to retrieve their salaries, which had been discontinued for over a year, but returned to al Bayda governorate in central Yemen after al Houthi-Saleh forces stopped them on the road, confiscated their cell phones, and accused them of working with the Saudi-led coalition. Yemeni government forces in Ma’rib governorate also refused to pay the southern soldiers, accusing them of being separatists. Southern soldiers called on President Hadi’s government in Aden to pay their salaries last month, but the government has not responded.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) militants reportedly based in Tanzania released a Swahili and Arabic language video on May 18. The video, titled “Warriors of Tanzania sent another message to their relatives,” shows at least four militants wielding assault rifles in a cave,possibly in the Amboni Caves in Tanga region, Tanzania. Reported al Shabaab militants engaged Tanzanian soldiers in the Amboni Caves in February 2015, killing one and wounding four others. It is unknown if these two groups are related.[4]
  • Kenyan Anti-terror Police Unit (ATPU) officers arrested a suspected al Shabaab member in Lamu county, Kenya on May 18. An ATPU spokesperson said that the suspect possessed chemicals used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and a boat with which to transport the devices to avoid detection by authorities. The suspect is thought to be Somali and may have been trying to carry out attacks in Kenya.[5]
  • Somali National Army (SNA) and Ethiopian African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops conducted clearing operations against al Shabaab militants around Dinsoor, Bay region on May 18. A SNA source claimed that the operation aimed to disrupt militant activity in the rural areas around the town, which is under government control.[6]
  • Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers shot and killed a suspected al Shabaab militant who attacked an adult civilian and young girl in Mogadishu’s Heliwa district on May 18. The officers shot and killed the militant, who was armed with a pistol and several hand grenades, when he refused to lay down his arms and surrender.[7]

[1] “Yemen’s Houthis accused of torturing rivals,” Al Jazeera, May 18, 2016,
[2] “The second time Kuwaiti Emir meets the government delegation in an attempt to get negotiations on track,” Al Masdar, May 18, 2016,
[3] “Al Houthis prevented southern military from entering Sana’a to receive their salaries,” Adenghad, May 18, 2016,; and “Legitimate government ignores issue of southern military forces blocked from entering Sana’a to receive their salaries,” Adenghad, May 18, 2016,
[4] David Goldman, “ISIS In Tanzanian Caves; Terror Threat Multiplication,” Strategic Intelligence Services, May 18, 2016,; Itay Ron, Twitter, May 18, 2016, and Pro-ISIS YouTube Account, source available upon request.
[5] “Al-Shabaab terror suspect nabbed in Kenya's coastal region,” Xinhua Africa, May 18 ,2016,  
[6] “SNA and AU troops carry out joint operation near Diinsoor town,” Shabelle News, May 18, 2016,
[7] “National Security kill Al-Shabab militant in Mogadishu,” Mogadishu Center for Research and Studies, May 18, 2016, and “Somali security forces killed al Shabaab suspect in operation in Mogadishu,” Goobjoog News, May 18, 2016,
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