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: Aden police arrest seven accused ISIS members, including a French national; Saudi Arabia intercepts al Houthi ballistic missile; AQAP eulogizes Taliban emir Mullah Akhtar Mansour; al Houthis recapture military installation in Usaylan, Shabwah following Yemeni government offensive on Bayhan, Shabwah; popular resistance fighters clash with security forces in Aden

Horn of Africa: UNSC approves two-month AMISOM extension; al Shabaab attacks SNA base in Hudur, Bakool region; at least 45 al Shabaab militants enter Kenya; Somalia’s military court sentences al Shabaab members and airport employees for Daallo Airlines bombing; al Shabaab raids SNA checkpoint in Sinka Dheer, Daynile District, Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief

  • Aden police forces arrested seven accused Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) members, including one French national, in al Mansoura, Aden on May 29. These arrests come after a security push to discover and apprehend those responsible for the recent wave of high-casualty ISIS attacks in Aden, including a May 23 suicide bombing outside an army recruitment center that killed more than 25 people.[1]
  • Al Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile toward Najran district in southern Saudi Arabia on May 30. Saudi air defense systems intercepted the missile. This is the second ballistic missile fired over the border since the official ceasefire began in April. The Saudi state news agency released a statement following the attack, stating that the Saudi-led coalition is rethinking its policy of “self-restraint” in response to cross-border attacks.[2]
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a eulogy for Taliban emir Mullah Akhtar Mansour, co-signed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. An American airstrike killed Mullah Mansour on May 21. The eulogy applauds Mansour’s tireless fight against American presence in Afghanistan.[3] 
  • Al Houthi fighters recaptured a military installation in eastern Usaylan, Shabwah governorate on May 31, after significant al Houthi reinforcements and artillery fire forced Yemeni government and popular resistance forces to retreat. The al Houthi assault came two days after Yemeni government forces launched an offensive against al Houthi positions in Bayhan, Shabwah. At least 19 government fighters and 28 al Houthi fighters were killed in the clashes on May 29. Bayhan is located on the Shabwah-Ma’rib border on the road to Sana’a, which is still held by al Houthi forces. [4]
  • Security forces clashed with popular resistance fighters in Aden on May 31 after popular resistance forces overran the Security Administration building in Aden. Two members of the security forces were injured in the clashes.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorized African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop-contributing countries to maintain their deployments in Somalia for an additional two months, until July 8. AMISOM also gave Kenya 4.2 billion Kenyan shillings to support counter-al Shabaab operations in the current fiscal year, though the funding fell 2.2 billion shillings short of Kenya’s initial request. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta threatened to withdraw Kenya’s AMISOM contingent from Somalia during a meeting with the UNSC on May 20, citing recent funding cuts made by the European Union (EU).[6]
  • Al Shabaab militants attacked a Somali National Army (SNA) military base near Hudur, Bakool region on May 29. The SNA killed seven al Shabaab militants, though al Shabaab claimed to have captured the base and killed several government soldiers. The SNA said it conducted security operations in the area and arrested several al Shabaab militants. Ethiopian AMISOM troops repulsed an al Shabaab attack on a convoy near Hudur on May 26, though al Shabaab claimed to have destroyed the convoy.[7]
  • At least 45 al Shabaab militants entered Kenya on May 29 through Sugrow village, near the Somali-Kenyan border, according to reports. The militants divided into three groups after crossing the border. These groups then traveled towards northeastern Kenya to Gerille, Konton, and Gunmarey areas in Wajir County. The militants set up a barricaded safe zone near Lafey, Mandera, Mandera County in order to store food and supplies.[8]
  • Somalia’s military court sentenced two suspected al Shabaab members to life in prison for the February 2 suicide attack on Daallo Airlines flight 3159. Abdiwali Mahmud Maow, the former Security Chief of Aviation Agency at Aden Adde International Airport and an al Shabaab member, collaborated with businessman and fellow al Shabaab member Arais Hashi Abdi to plan the attack. An al Shabaab suicide bomber detonated a laptop bomb on the Daallo Airlines flight after it left Mogadishu. The bomber had been scheduled for a Turkish Airlines flight, but its passengers moved to the Daallo Airlines flight after the Turkish flight was canceled. The bomber was the only casualty. The court also sentenced eight accomplices, who had no ties to al Shabaab and received a sentence between six months and four years. The court acquitted five other suspects.[9
  • Al Shabaab raided a SNA military checkpoint at Sinka Dheer, Daynile District, Mogadishu on May 30. The SNA troops repelled the militants and claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on al Shabaab. Suspected al Shabaab members detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a convoy carrying National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) soldiers in Taridish on the outskirts of Mogadishu on May 28.[10]

[1] “'Westerner' arrested in anti-IS raid in Yemen's Aden,” Middle East Eye, May 28, 2016,; Ahmed Al Haj, “Yemen Suicide Attacks Kill at Least 45 Army Recruits,” Associated Press, May 23, 2016,
[2] “Saudi intercepts missile fired from Yemen: Coalition,” Andalou Agency, May 31, 2016,
[3] “Al Qaeda branches eulogize Taliban leader Mullah Mansour,” Thomas Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, May 31, 2016,
[4]  “Clashes erupt in Yemen’s Shabwa province,” Albawaba, May 31, 2016,;Heavy fighting in Usaylan, Shabwah and Houthi forces retake military compound,” AlMasdar, May 31, 2016,   
[5] “Clashes surrounding Aden Security Administration and casualties,” AlMasdar, May 31, 2016,
[6] “Security Council approves two-month extension for AMISOM,” Goobjoog, May 28, 2016,; “Kenya received Sh4.2b to fund war on Al Shabaab,” Paul Wafula, Standard Digital News, May 31, 2016,; and “United Nations Security Council Resolution 2289 (2016),” United Nations, May 27, 2016,
[7] “Several Al-Shabaab fighters killed in heavy fighting in Bakool region,” Goobjoog, May 30, 2016,
[8] “Dozens of al Shabaab fighters spotted entering Kenya,” Harar24, May 30, 2016,
[9] “Somali Military court sentences suspects of Daallo Airline attack,” Goobjoog, May 30, 2016,; and “Daallo Airlines blast: Somalia sentences two to life in prison,” BBC,  May 30, 2016,  
[10] “SNA and Al Shabaab battle outside Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, May 31, 2016,; “Al shabaab attacks Somali military base in Mogadishu.” Shabelle News, May 31, 2016,; and “Two dead as roadside bomb hits NISA convoy near Mogadishu,” Shabelle News, May 28, 2016,
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