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: al Houthi rebels begin mobilizing in Dhamar governorate; Yemeni security forces confiscate AQAP documents; AQAP releases eulogy for local leader in Abyan governorate; AQAP releases statement refuting Yemeni military victories in Abyan and Shabwah governorates; Yemeni Defense Ministry confirms death of two AQAP leaders; unidentified gunmen attack security forces guarding President Hadi’s residence in Sana’a capital
Horn of Africa: al Shabaab claims responsibility for May 24 grenade attack in Djibouti; al Shabaab militants raid village along Ethiopia-Somali border in Bakool region; roadside IED detonates near SNA convoy in Mogadishu; unidentified gunmen kill Turkish national in Mogadishu
Yemen Security Brief
- Al Houthi rebels have reportedly begun mobilizing near Mabar city in Dhamar governorate on May 25. Security sources allege that the al Houthis dug trenches into Anwa hill overlooking Mabar in preparation for launching an attack on Salafis within the city. In response, Salafis have erected barricades at the base of Anwa hill, and Yemeni security forces have taken precautionary measures to protect civilians in the surrounding areas.
- Yemeni security forces announced on May 27 that they had confiscated a number of documents from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants during recent military operations in Abyan and Shabwah governorates. The documents include letters between Ansar al Sharia’s leader in Zinjibar, Jalal al Marqishi, and AQAP member Abu Habbah, in which they discuss preparing explosives and other weapons for use against Yemeni military operations in Abyan governorate.
- AQAP released a eulogy for its local leader in Mahfad district in Abyan governorate Ali bin Lakraa’ al Kazimi al Awlaki, through its “Ansar al Sharia News” Twitter account on May 27. The eulogy contained a posthumous message from Lakraa’ in which he called on members of the Bakazam tribe to support AQAP.
- AQAP released a statement through its insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, on May 27 refuting claims by the Yemeni government of attaining “major victories” against AQAP during recent military offensives in Abyan and Shabwah governorates. The statement further claimed that AQAP fighters are widely and deeply entrenched throughout the country, and called for urgent action against the al Houthis in northern Yemen.
- The Yemeni Ministry of Defense confirmed the death of two AQAP leaders killed by Yemeni security forces on May 28. The two men, identified as Abdul Khaliq Mohammed, also known as Salman, and Yahya Mohammed Nasser Nohob, are implicated in a number of terrorist activities in Sana’a capital, although further details regarding their involvement have yet to be released.
- Unidentified gunmen attacked Yemeni security forces guarding Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s residence in Sana’a capital on May 28. After opening fire and killing one Yemeni soldier, the gunmen fled to a nearby square, where security forces were able to arrest one individual who was wounded in the attack.
Horn of Africa Brief
- Al Shabaab released a statement, claiming responsibility for a May 24 grenade attack on a restaurant in Djibouti, on May 25 through several al Shabaab-affiliated websites, including Shahada News Agency. Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, stated that al Shabaab targeted the specific location in Djibouti because officials from France and other Western countries were known to frequent the restaurant. Rage cited French violence against Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the apostasy of the Djiboutian government as justification for the attack.
- Al Shabaab militants raided Ato, a village along the Ethiopian-Somali border in Bakool region, on May 27. The militants clashed with a local government militia during the raid, killing approximately 28 militia forces. Despite the attack, the government militia maintained control of Ato, reportedly killing 12 al Shabaab militants.
- A roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near a Somali National Army (SNA) convoy transporting General Dahir Aden Ilmi in the Hodan district of Mogadishu on May 28. General Ilmi was unharmed by the blast, which reportedly damaged two vehicles and injured an unspecified number of SNA soldiers. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, al Shabaab has recently renewed threats to target Somali officials in Mogadishu.
- Unidentified gunmen killed a Turkish national, Saadettin Dogan, in Mogadishu on May 27. The gunmen ambushed Dogan, identified as a Turkish airline officer, as he was travelling through Mogadishu, firing upon his vehicle. The driver and translator accompanying Dogan were uninjured in the attack. Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the killing, al Shabaab has threatened Turks in the past. In response, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud ordered Somalia’s security apparatus to conduct investigations into the incident.