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: UN Special Envoy expresses optimism for UN-led talks in Kuwait; militants attack Aden security directorate; coalition airstrikes target militants in Lahij

Horn of Africa: Kenyan police arrest two suspected ISIS militants in Nairobi; militants detonate two IEDs targeting government and security authorities in Burdubo, Gedo region; al Shabaab mastermind behind 2010 Kampala World Cup bombings found guilty of terrorism

Yemen Security Brief

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed reported progress at the ongoing UN-led peace talks in Kuwait in a May 25 statement. Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with the Hadi delegation to discuss withdrawal mechanisms, and referred to an executive mechanism to coordinate troop withdrawals with political considerations. He expressed confidence that an agreement could be reached in the coming weeks, indicating greater optimism than prior estimates. An unnamed western diplomat confirmed that the talks have not reached this level of progress in a year and a half.[1]
  • Militants attacked the headquarters of Aden’s security directorate in Khormaksar district, Aden on May 26. The gunmen fired a rocket at the police headquarters and exchanged fire with government security forces before fleeing the area by car. Violence in Aden has increased over the past weeks, with multiple explosive attacks and attempted assassinations of military and security officials.[2]
  • The Saudi-led coalition targeted suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in Yafa’, eastern Lahij governorate on May 25. The coalition previously targeted militants in the area of al Hawta, Lahij. Continued airstrikes on Islamist militants in Lahij indicate that militants are still active in the area, despite coalition claims to have cleared AQAP from the governorate.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Kenyan police arrested two suspected terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in a Nairobi suburb and seized materials used to manufacture improvised explosive device (IED) on May 24. The suspects admitted to planning attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa in retaliation for the arrest of fellow ISIS supporter and would-be terrorist Mohammed Abdi Ali earlier this month. Kenyan and Ugandan police arrested Ali and two other members of a five-person cell on May 3, 2016 for planning to use anthrax and conventional weapons to attack a large public location in Nairobi.[4]
  • Militants detonated two IEDs in a tea shop near Burdubo, Gedo region on May 26, wounding at least four people including the city’s administrator. The tea shop is known to be popular with government officials and security personnel. No group has claimed the attack.[5]
  • Kampala’s High Court found al Shabaab member Isa Ahmed Luyima guilty of terrorism on May 26 in Kampala, Uganda. Luyima, a Ugandan national, masterminded an al Shabaab- and al Qaeda-supported attack that targeted a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant during a screening of the World Cup final on July 11, 2010, killing 74 people. The trial includes five Ugandans, six Kenyans and two Tanzanians. Two of the Kenyans were found innocent of terrorism due to insufficient evidence. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led the case, considered Uganda’s first major conviction of an al Shabaab suspect. The suspects’ allegations of abduction from Kenya or Tanzania and of torture by regional, American, and British agents have prolonged the case. Kampala’s High Court is expected to reach a verdict for the remaining nine suspects within the week.[6]

[1] “Yemen’s warring parties closer to agreement: UN envoy,” Zakaria al-Kamali, Andalou Agency, May 25, 2016; “UN's Ban wants to ramp up Yemen peace effort,” Daily Mail, May 25, 2016
[2] “Armed attack on Aden’s security directorate,” Barakish, May 26, 2016,
[3] “Coalition planes strike al Qaeda positions in Yafa’,” Barakish, May 25, 2016,
[4] “Kenya police arrest two persons for planning ISIL-linked attack,” Shabelle News, May 26, 2016,; and “Gulf of Aden Security Review,” AEI Critical Threats Project, May 4, 2016,  
[5] “Twin blasts hit a tea-shop near Bur-Dhubo town,” Shabelle News, May 26, 2016,
[6] “Uganda al Shabaab World Cup bomb mastermind found guilty, “ BBC, May 26, 2016,
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