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: AQAP releases biography of deceased fighter to jihadi forums; Yemeni security forces arrest three AQAP militants in Shabwah governorate; al Houthi rebels renew clashes with Yemeni security forces in Amran governorate; gunmen assassinate local government official in al Bayda governorate; Yemeni security forces arrest Saudi AQAP militant in Lahij governorate
Horn of Africa: Kenyan Air Force conducts airstrikes targeting al Shabaab militants in Middle Jubba region; unidentified assailants detonate explosive near mosque in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, former Islamist leader releases statement condemning foreign intrusion in Somalia; al Shabaab re-establishes presence in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a biography of deceased Egyptian AQAP fighter and vocalist Ahmed Sayyid Ibrahim Sayyid, also known as Abu Musab al Masri, to jihadi forums on May 19. Published in the fifteenth issue of the AQAP series, “Martyrs in the Peninsula,” the biography details Sayyid’s support of the Egyptian revolution and his experiences fighting for AQAP in the town of Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. Sayyid was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Shabwah governorate on April 16, 2012.
- Yemeni security forces arrested three AQAP militants near Azzan in Shabwah governorate on May 20. Further details regarding the identities of the militants remain unclear.
- Al Houthi rebels renewed clashes with Yemeni security forces near Amran City in Amran governorate on May 21. After mediation efforts failed to achieve a ceasefire, fighting resumed between the two groups and resulted in the death of at least four Yemeni soldiers and four al Houthi rebels.
- Unidentified gunmen assassinated the secretary general of the al Bayda Local Council Abdullah Abu Talib in the town of Rada’a in al Bayda governorate on May 21.
- Yemeni security forces arrested AQAP fighter Mu'adh Majed al Hamid al Asiri in Lahij governorate on May 21. Security officials report that Asiri, a Saudi national, fled into Lahij from Abyan governorate, where the Yemeni military recently launched numerous operations against AQAP.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
- Kenyan Air Force fighter jets launched airstrikes targeting an al Shabaab base near Jilib in Middle Jubba region on May 20. AMISOM claimed that the airstrike, the second in Jilib in three days, targeted al Shabaab senior leadership operating in the town, killing more than fifty al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, denied AMISOM’s reporting and claimed instead that the airstrikes hit farmland near Jilib, killing at least three civilians.
- Unidentified assailants detonated an unspecified explosive, likely a grenade, near a mosque in Garissa in the North Eastern Province of Kenya on May 20. Kenyan police report that, although a second explosive failed to detonate, the initial explosion injured as many as 11 people. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.
- Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a former Islamist leader in Somalia with ties to al Shabaab, released a statement from house arrest in Mogadishu on May 20. Aweys, addressing the youth of Somalia, condemned foreign intrusion in Somalia, stating that all past attempts to introduce shari’a law were foiled by the West. Aweys also declared that the current regional administrations operating in Somalia, Jubbaland, Puntland, and Somaliland, all serve as proxies of Ethiopia. Finally, Aweys tentatively voiced support for al Shabaab’s struggle against Ethiopia, AMISOM and the Somali Federal Government, calling for Somalia’s youth to assume responsibility for the country’s future.
- Al Shabaab re-established a presence in the Heliwa district of Mogadishu on May 20, ordering district residents to turn off street lights throughout the district. The residents acquiesced to al Shabaab’s demand, directly violating Heliwa district administration policy. Reporting indicates that al Shabaab may have issued the order in an effort to determine the extent of their influence throughout the district. Separately, al Shabaab militants killed a woman, identified as Fartun Ahmed Mohamud, in the Qansah Dhere district of Bakool region on May 20. Al Shabaab reportedly targeted Mohamud for assisting AMISOM and the Somali National Army.