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 al Awlaki interview video; U.S. officials: Qahtani blew himself up; Saleh offers amnesty to all rebels, journalists; tribesmen kidnap American couple outside Sana’a; authorities arrest suspected bomb maker

Horn of Africa: Shabaab militants fire mortars at presidential palace in Mogadishu, 14 killed in fighting; Ugandan AMISOM forces planning counteroffensive in Mogadishu; Ethiopian troops battle residents in Somaliland, 13 dead; Somali warlord contracts German mercenaries to topple TFG; EU training 400 Somalis in Uganda; Hizb al Islam announces new Shari’a government; UN Secretary-General Ban pledges support to TFG

Yemen Security Brief

  • AQAP released a video interview with U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki in which he praises the efforts of Nidal Hasan and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He says both were his students and asks other Muslims to follow their example. He also justifies such attacks on the grounds that American people voted for leaders who started wars in Muslim lands.  Awlaki adds that Islamist movements should send envoys to Somalia to train and learn from al Shabaab.[1]
  • A week after an AQAP official confirmed the death of militant Nayif al Qahtani, U.S. military officials now say he accidentally blew himself up in Abyan province while working with explosives. He initially had been reported to have died in a gun battle with Saudi forces.[2]
  • Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered amnesty to the country’s Houthi rebels and southern separatists Friday and welcomed them to return to the political process in honor of the country’s 20th anniversary of unification. He also promised to release all prisoners currently held by the state belonging to both groups, as well as journalists.[3]
  • Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped an American couple Monday outside Sana’a, as well as their driver and translator. The group belongs to the Shardah tribe, and demanded the release of one of its members in return for its hostages.[4]
  • Yemeni authorities arrested a suspected bomb maker in the southern Abyan province.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants fired mortars at the presidential palace in Mogadishu Sunday, and government forces backed by AMISOM support responded to repel the attack. The mortar explosions and ensuing battle killed at least 14 people and wounded many others.[6]
  • Ugandan AMISOM forces claim to have Mogadishu under control following al Shabaab’s Sunday attack and are planning a counteroffensive.[7]
  • A battle between Ethiopian troops and Islamist militants in Somaliland after a dispute at a checkpoint killed at least three Ethiopian soldiers and 10 residents in the Buhoodle district Saturday. Ethiopian forces crossed into Somaliland two weeks ago to chase Somali insurgents, the first time it has done so.[8]
  • A Somali warlord has contracted a German mercenary army to fight against the TFG in an effort to topple it. Galadod Abdinur Ahmad Darman, an opposition warlord, hired 100 former German federal soldiers from the company Asgaard German Security Group to his personal command.[9]
  • The EU began training 400 Somali soldiers in Uganda in support of the TFG. One hundred and fifty European advisers are there for the mission, which plans to train 2,000 Somali troops by mid-2011.[10]
  • Hizb al Islam’s Sheikh Mohamed Moallim announced in a press conference Saturday that the group was establishing a federal Shari’a government. He also denounced the UN conference in Istanbul.[11]
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared his support for the TFG at UN summit Saturday in Turkey concerning Somalia and piracy. He said the current government offers Somalia its best chance for stability, and called on the international community to stand behind President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.[12]

[1] “AQAP Releases Interview with Anwar al-Awlaki,” SITE Intel Group, May 22, 2010. Available:
[2] “Key Al Qaeda Figure Accidentally Blows Himself Up, U.S. Officials Say,” Fox News, May 21, 2010. Available:
[3] “Yemen president extends olive branch to the opposition,” AFP, May 22, 2010. Available:
[4] “Two Americans Kidnapped in Yemen,” New York Times, May 24, 2010. Available:
[5] “Explosive maker arrested in Abyan,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), May 23, 2010. Available:
[6] “Militants fire mortars at Somali president’s palace,” BBC, May 23, 2010. Available:
[7] “Uganda: Locals Safe Amid Mogadishu Skirmishes,” The Monitor, May 24, 2010. Available:
[8] “Somaliland-Ethiopia border clash kills 13,” BBC, May 22, 2010. Available:
[9] “German mercenaries to fight UN-backed government in Somlia,” Garowe, May 23, 2010. Available: 
[10] “Somalia: 400 to Get EU-Led Training,” The East African, May 24, 2010. Available:
[11] “Somalia: Rebels to form an Islamic government,” Mareeg, May 22, 2010. Available:
[12] “U.N.’s Ban calls Somali government chance for stability,” Reuters, May 22, 2010. Available:
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