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: FBI finds extensive links between AQAP and Pensacola attacker; Hadi government forces claim capturing al Houthi brigade commander in Sana’a governorate; Hadi government forces reportedly shoot down al Houthi drone over Ma’rib city; Hadi government forces clash with al Houthis west of Taiz city; Saudi-led coalition airstrikes target al Houthis in al Bayda governorate
Horn of Africa: AFRICOM conducts airstrike against al Shabaab in Middle Jubba region; ISCA kills nearly 30 Christians in DRC; al Shabaab suicide attack in Mudug region kills Mudug's governor; AMISOM foils al Shabaab attack in Lower Jubba region; KDF launches airstrikes at al Shabaab along Kenyan-Somali border
The Gulf of Aden Security Review will be published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays going forward.
Yemen Security Brief:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced on May 18 that it found extensive links between al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the perpetrator of the December 2019 attack at the US naval air station in Pensacola, Florida. The FBI found that the attacker, Royal Saudi Air Force trainee Mohammad al Shamrani, radicalized in 2015 and established contact with AQAP before arriving to the US. He then continued associating with AQAP while living in Texas and Florida. Shamrani planned the Pensacola attack, coordinating with AQAP officials. The FBI also revealed that it recently conducted a military operation in Yemen against AQAP operative Abdullah al Maliki, whom Shamrani communicated with. AQAP claimed responsibility for the Pensacola attack in early February.
Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi claimed capturing the commander of the al Houthi 314th armored brigade during a counterattack against al Houthi militants in Nihm district in Sana’a governorate in northern Yemen on May 18. Hadi government forces also claimed capturing multiple al Houthi sites in Nihm district. Hadi government forces previously claimed killing al Houthi militants in Nihm district in late April.
Hadi government forces reportedly shot down an al Houthi drone flying over Ma’rib city in Ma’rib governorate in northern Yemen on May 17. Saudi-led coalition forces shot down an al Houthi drone flying over Sirwah district in Ma’rib governorate in mid-March.
Saudi-led coalition forces launched airstrikes against al Houthi positions in al Sawadiyah district in al Bayda governorate in central Yemen on May 16. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes previously targeted al Houthi positions in Qaniya district in al Bayda governorate on May 14.
Hadi government forces clashed with al Houthi militants in Jabal al Han and Wadi Hanash west of Taiz city in Taiz governorate in southern Yemen on May 16. Al Houthi militants clashed with Hadi government forces in Taiz governorate in early April.
Horn of Africa Security Brief:
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab near Qunyo Barrow in southern Somalia’s Middle Jubba region on May 17, killing two militants. AFRICOM conducted an airstrike targeting al Shabaab near Janaale in central Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region in early March.
The Islamic State’s Central Africa Province (ISCA) claimed killing nearly 30 Christians in three attacks in North Kivu region in east-central Democratic Republic of the Congo on May 17. The attacks took place in the villages of Cocola, Luna, and Mufutabanagy in Beni city. ISCA claimed these attacks as part of a third wave of the Islamic State’s “Battle of Attrition” military campaign. The Islamic State launched this most recent wave on May 14.
Al Shabaab claimed a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in Galkayo in northern Somalia’s Mudug region on May 17. The attack killed Mudug’s regional governor and three of his bodyguards. Al Shabaab assassinated a Puntland State immigration officer in Galkayo in mid-April.
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops foiled an al Shabaab attack in Bilis Qooqani in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubba region on May 15, killing three militants. Somali government-run media reported that Somali Danab special forces drove al Shabaab militants out of two towns in Kismayo city in Lower Jubba region in late April.
The Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) reportedly launched airstrikes on suspected al Shabaab hideouts along the Kenyan-Somali border on May 16. The KDF claimed al Shabaab attacked a police post and communication infrastructure in Khorof Kharar in Wajir County in eastern Kenya on May 16. Al Shabaab and Kenyan police clashed near Ausmudule in Wajir County in mid-April.
 “FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Remarks at Press Conference Regarding Naval Air Station Pensacola Shooting Investigation,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, May 18, 2020, https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-director-christopher-wrays-remarks-at-press-conference-regarding-naval-air-station-pensacola-shooting-investigation; and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – February 3, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, February 3, 2020 https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-february-3 -2020.
 “Capture of the Houthi militia’s 314 armored brigade commander in Nahham front and the army is liberating new sites (latest developments),” Al Mashhad al Yemeni, May 18, 2020, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/166512; and Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 27, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 27, 2020 https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-27-2020.
 “Downing a Houthi march in the sky of the city of Marib,” Al Mashhad Al Yemeni, May 17, 2020, https://www.almashhad-alyemeni.com/166413; and Pamela Makadsi and Jessica Kocan, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 18, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 18, 2020 https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-18-2020.
 “The coalition bombed reinforcements for the Houthi militias in Al-Bayda,” 7adramout, May 16, 2020, https://www.7adramout.net/aden24/7386495/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81-%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%B5%D9%81-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%B4%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%A1.html; and Kalissa Azooz and Muhammad Ramadhito, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – May 15, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, May 15, 2020 https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-may-15-2020.
 “Violent battles in Taiz since the early hours of the morning, and a spokesman tells details and losses statistics,” Mareb Press, May 17, 2020, https://marebpress.net/news_details.php?lang=arabic&sid=163640; and Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 29, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 8, 2020 https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-8-2020.
 “Somali government says US and Somali airstrike kill 2 Shabab fighters in near the town of Kunyo Barrow,” Horn Observer, May 18, 2020, https://hornobserver.com/articles/373/Somali-government-says-US-and-Somali-airstrike-kill-2-Shabab-fighters-in-near-the-town-of-Kunyo-Barrow; Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 10, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 10, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-march-10-2020; and US Africa Command Public Affairs, “Federal Government of Somalia, AFRICOM target al-Shabaab,” United States Africa Command, May 18, 2020, https://www.africom.mil/media-room/pressrelease/32784/federal-government-of-somalia-africom-target-al-shabaab.
 “ISCAP Claims Killing Nearly 30 Christians in Attacks in DRC,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 17, 2020, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and Kalissa Azooz and Muhammad Ramadhito, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – May 15, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, May 15, 2020 https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-may-15-2020.
 “Mudug Governor Killed in al Shabaab Suicide Bomb Attack,” Garowe, May 18, 2020, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/puntland/somalia-mudug-governor-killed-in-al-shabaab-suicide-bomb-attack; and “Somalia: Governor killed in suicide bombing claimed by al-Shabaab,” Al Jazeera, May 17, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/somalia-governor-killed-suicide-bombing-claimed-al-shabab-200517150049962.html; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 13, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 13, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-13-2020.
 “AU Forces Repulse al Shabaab Attack Targeting Jubaland Troops, Arrest Several Militants,” Garowe, May 17, 2020, https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/au-forces-repulse-al-shabaab-attack-targeting-jubaland-troops-arrest-several-militants; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 20, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 20, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-20-2020.
 “Al-Shabaab suspects destroy Safaricom mast in Wajir,” Mustaqbal Radio, May 17, 2020, https://www.mustaqbalradio.net/al-shabaab-suspects-destroy-safaricom-mast-in-wajir/; “KDF launches airstrikes after Wajir Shabaab attack,” Hiiraan, May 17, 2020, https://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2020/May/178180/kdf_launches_airstrikes_after_wajir_shabaab_attack.aspx; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 13, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 13, 2020, https://www.criticalthreats.org/briefs/gulf-of-aden-security-review/gulf-of-aden-security-review-april-13-2020.