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: U.S. sanctions ISIS in Yemen and AQAP financiers; reported U.S. airstrike targets Ansar al Sharia militants in Hadramawt governorate; al Houthis release southern prisoners in al Dhaleh following tribal mediation

Horn of Africa: Suspected ISIS militants kill imam and two worshippers at mosque in Mwanza region, Tanzania; suspected al Shabaab militant detonates rickshaw SVBIED outside cafe in Wardhigley district, Mogadishu; UNSC representative says African Union should fund AMISOM budget deficit

Yemen Security Brief

  • The U.S. Department of State designated the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Yemen as a Specifically Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224, which authorizes sanctions on foreigners that participated, or planned to participate, in acts of terrorism and that pose a serious risk to national security, foreign policy, or the economy. The U.S Department of the Treasury sanctioned six individuals for funding and supporting terrorist networks. The individuals included Nayif Salih Salim al Qaysi, a senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official and financier who was appointed governor of al Bayda governorate in Yemen in December 2015, and Ghalib Abdullah al Zaidi, who procured money, arms, and recruits for AQAP in Ma’rib governorate.[1]
  • A reported U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) targeted a vehicle carrying two suspected members of Ansar al Sharia, AQAP’s insurgent wing, in al Abr, Hadramawt governorate on May 19. The airstrikes follow an uptick in explosive attacks by AQAP and ISIS targeting military and security personnel in Hadramawt last week.[2]
  • Al Houthi militias agreed on May 19 to release four southern resistance prisoners in Maris, al Dhaleh governorate following tribal mediation led by Sheikh Ghaleb Mutleq al Dhalae that reportedly lasted for more than 11 months. Al Houthis and allied militias have clashed with southern resistance militias in al Dhaleh, which lies on the border between historical northern and southern Yemen, for more than a year.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Fifteen suspected pro-ISIS militants attacked a mosque in Mwanza region, Tanzania on May 20, killing an imam and two worshippers and wounding several others. The militants, who reportedly carried a black flag with the words “Islamic State” in white text, entered the mosque and attempted to abduct younger congregants. One of the militants asked those present “Why are you praying when our fellows are being held by the police?” before stabbing congregants at random. This attack comes one day after a group of ISIS supporters calling themselves the “people of the cave” and claiming to be from Tanzania announced their presence in a YouTube video. It is unknown whether the two groups are acting in concert.[4]
  • A suspected al Shabaab militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED), reportedly a motorized rickshaw, in front of a cafe in Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district on May 19. The explosion killed or wounded at least eight individuals, including three National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers. This attack occurred as a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) delegation met with with high-level Somali officials in Mogadishu to discuss upcoming federal elections.[5]
  • The British Permanent Representative to the UNSC, Matthew Rycroft, said that the African Union is responsible for the remaining 20 percent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) budget required to keep the Mission fully funded. The European Union (EU) cut its funding for AMISOM from 900 million euros to 750 million in January 2016, leading to the 20 percent deficit. AMISOM troop-contributing countries have complained that the reduction has prevented them from paying complete salaries and conducting large-scale operations against al Shabaab.[6]

[1] “Treasury Designates Al-Qaida, Al-Nusrah Front, AQAP, And Isil Fundraisers And Facilitators,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, May 19, 2016,; and “Terrorist Designations of ISIL-Yemen, ISIL-Saudi Arabia, and ISIL-Libya,” U.S. Department of State, May 19, 2016,  
[2] “U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle targeted two suspected members of the al Qaeda organization in al Abr,” Al Masdar, May 19, 2016,
[3] “Al Houthi agreement to handover members of the resistance in al Dhaleh,” Adenghad, May 19, 2016,
[4] “Gangsters with "Islamic State" flag kill 3 in N Tanzania mosque,” Xinhua Africa, May 20, 2016, and “Three people killed following mosque attack in Mwanza,” Capital TVTZ, May 19, 2016,  
[5] “One dead, 8 wounded in Mogadishu cafe bombing,” Shabelle News, May 20, 2016,  
[6] “Contribute the remaining 20% to AMISOM Un Security Council tell African Union,” Goobjoog News, May 20, 2016, and Jeremy Binnie, “EU cuts AMISOM funding,” IHS Jane’s 360, March 4, 2016,  
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