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 begins withdrawal from Zinjibar, Abyan; Kuwait delegations to form three joint committees; al Houthi-Saleh forces briefly detain 11 UN employees in Ibb; Saudi-led coalition launches airstrikes on al Houthi-Saleh targets in Sirwah, Ma’rib

Horn of Africa: ISIS claims attack on NISA officers in Daynile District, Mogadishu; former Puntland intelligence official claims ISIS cell in Puntland receives support from ISIS in Yemen; SNA and AMISOM forces secure villages in Galgudud region; al Shabaab releases monthly news report

Yemen Security Brief

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) began withdrawing from Zinjibar, Abyan governorate on May 5. AQAP militants evacuated several governmental buildings and began to retreat towards Shabwah governorate. The security director of Abyan governorate, Brigadier General Nasser Ali Hadi, noted that the Yemeni government forces gave AQAP five days to complete its withdrawal from Zinjibar and Ja’ar in order to avoid a government offensive. AQAP agreed to withdraw through local mediators on May 4.[1]

Participants in UN-led peace talks in Kuwait reached an agreement on May 5 to form three joint committees, drawing members from both President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s delegation and al Houthi and the General People’s Congress (GPC) party delegation. The first committee will focus on political prisoners and prisoners of war. The second committee will address national and local security and military issues, including disarmament and the withdrawal of forces. The third committee will focus on political resolution, including the rehabilitation of state institutions and political dialogue. Delegates will meet on May 5 to discuss the responsibilities of each committee.[2]

Al Houthi-Saleh forces released 11 UN employees hours after their kidnapping in Ibb governorate on May 4. Al Houthi-Saleh forces detained the employees, who included five UNICEF and UN World Food Programme personnel, upon their arrival to al Hadbah, Ibb governorate. The UN negotiated their release.[3]

The Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes targeting reinforcements of al Houthi and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sirwah, Ma’rib governorate on May 5. Al Houthi-Saleh forces reinforced positions in Habab, west of Sirwah, and reportedly shelled the government-held Kufal base on May 3.[4]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Pro-Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham  (ISIS)  ‘Amaq News Agency claimed that ISIS militants attacked Somali National Intelligence and Security (NISA) officers in Sinka Dheer in Daynile District, Mogadishu on May 5 with light weapons. This attack, if confirmed, would be the second attack claimed ISIS attack in Mogadishu. [5] 

Abdi Hassan Hussein, the former director of the Puntland Intelligence Agency (PIA), claimed that ISIS’s presence in Puntland is much larger than previously reported. Hussein said that the cell of ISIS militants commanded by ex-al Shabaab leader Sheikh Abdul Qadir Mumin is roughly 100 to 150 fighters strong and is receiving financial aid, weapons, and advisors from ISIS Wilayat Hadramawt, based in eastern Yemen. Most estimates assess that the group only has  20 to 25 fighters and lacks any substantial operational capabilities. Hussein also said that the group is providing aid to civilians near its stronghold in the Bari Mountains in Puntland.[6]

Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops secured El Qohle and Bud Bud villages in the El Bur district of Galgudud region, Somalia on May 4. AMISOM claimed to kill 25 al Shabaab militants during the operation. AMISOM and SNA forces are conducting clearing operations in Galgudud and Middle Shabelle regions in order to provide better security for civilians.[7]

Al Shabaab released its monthly news report, detailing attacks and governance activities conducted between February 10 and March 9. The group claimed 69 attacks for this period, including the defeat of an “American landing” at Awdheegle in Lower Shabelle region.[8]

[1] “Al Qaeda begins withdrawing gradually from #Zinjibar and #Ja’ar in #Abyan,” Barakish, May 5, 2016,  
[2] “Division of the delegations of the Kuwait consultations into three committees and <<online net source>> spread details and names government representatives,” Al Masdar, May 5, 2016,  
[3] “Al Houthi militia releases employees affiliated with the United Nations hours after their kidnapping in Ibb,” Al Masdar, May 5, 2016,  
[4] “Coalition bombs al Houthi reinforcements in #Sirwah #Ma’rib,” Barakish, May 5, 2016,; “Ma’rib.. Al Houthis shell military base ‘Kufal’ in Sirwah with a katyusha rocket,” Al Masdar, May 3, 2016,; and ”Houthi militia continues to breach ceasefire and sends reinforcements to the west of Sirwah,” Barakish, May 3, 2016,
[5] “IS Claims Attack on Somali Intelligence Forces near Mogadishu,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 5, 2016, Available through subscription to
[6] Harun Maruf, “Intelligence Official: Islamic State Growing in Somalia,” Voice of America, May 5, 2016,
[7] “AMISOM claims killing 25 Al shabaab militants in central Somalia,” Shabelle News, May 5, 2016,
[8] “SHABAAB CLAIMS 69 ATTACKS IN ACTIVITY REPORT FOR FEB.10-MAR.9, 2016, INCLUDING SYL HOTEL OPERATION,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 5, 2016, Available through subscription to
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