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: clip from unreleased AQAP video surfaces on YouTube; AQAP issues statement in response to President Hadi speech about foreign fighters in Yemen; Yemeni security forces and Popular Committee members seize terrain in Abyan governorate
Horn of Africa: suspected al Shabaab militants target AMISOM and SNA forces with mortar strikes in Mogadishu and Gedo region; AMISOM and SNA forces attack al Shabaab stronghold in Bakool region; suspected al Shabaab militants attack fuel stations in Kenya’s North Eastern Province; leaders of the East African Community member states agree to transnational counterterrorism strategy
Yemen Security Brief
- A clip from an unreleased al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) video, titled “Harvest of the Spies,” surfaced on YouTube on April 30. The full video purportedly recounts the story of four spies convicted of placing tracking devices on AQAP vehicles to help facilitate U.S. airstrikes. The clip displays an interview between a representative of AQAP media arm al Malahem Foundation and a man identified as Abu Islam al Muhajir discussing the four spies as well as commentary from the spies themselves. The clip concludes with a statement from an unidentified narrator stating that AQAP had executed the four spies following their conviction and encouraging other spies to turn themselves in.
- AQAP issued a statement through Yemeni journalist Abdul Razzaq al Jamal’s Facebook page on May 1. The statement responded to a recent speech by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in which he claimed that seventy percent of AQAP fighters in Yemen are foreigners from Australia, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, and additional countries. In the statement, AQAP asserts that the majority of their fighters hail from Muslim countries and accuses the U.S. and U.K. of being the foreign “Crusaders” in Yemen.
- Yemeni security forces and Popular Committee members reportedly seized terrain from AQAP near the town of al Majaala in Abyan governorate on May 1. The security forces killed at least six AQAP militants, including an Uzbek national identified as Abu Muslim al Uzbeki. Additional reports indicate that Yemeni forces defused a number of landmines in the area, destroyed at least three AQAP vehicles, and captured an unspecified number of AQAP militants. The operation came on the third day of a Yemeni military offensive launched on April 28 with the goal of eradicating AQAP strongholds in the Abyan and Shabwah governorates.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Suspected al Shabaab militants fired mortar strikes into the Dharkenley and Wadajir districts of Mogadishu on May 1. Government officials reported that, although the strikes appeared to target Burundian AMISOM forces stationed in the districts, the shells primarily struck residential areas, killing four civilians and wounding at least ten more. Separately, al Shabaab militants fired mortar strikes into Fafadun in Gedo region on May 2. The mortar shells struck near Kenyan AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) bases in the town, inflicting an unspecified number of casualties.
- AMISOM and SNA forces attacked an al Shabaab stronghold near Hudur in Bakool region on May 1. Although at least two friendly soldiers were killed during the fighting, the outcome of the confrontation remains unclear.
- Kenyan police reported that approximately thirty al Shabaab militants attempted to raid a fuel station in Mandera in Kenya’s North Eastern Province on May 1. The police repelled the raid, killing two militants and recovering weapons and explosives, before the militants fled across the border into Somalia. Police later arrested one of the suspected attackers during a search operation in the area. Separately, suspected al Shabaab militants attacked a fuel station in Wajir County on May 1. The militants were able to explode one of the station’s fuel tanks during the attack.
- Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) member states agreed to implement a regional counterterrorism strategy at an EAC summit in Arusha in Tanzania on April 30. The leaders, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Burundian First Vice President Propser Bazombaza and Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi, declared that the counterterrorism strategy is designed to “intensify efforts aimed at combatting terrorism, insurgency, and transnational crime with the view to safeguard fundamental rights and freedom of the people of East Africa.”