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 claims tribesmen aided AQAP against the Yemeni military; Yemeni security forces defuse IED in al Bayda governorate; UN Security Council and EU Policy Chief condemn killing of French EU worker in Sana’a; Yemeni security officials reportedly received advanced warning about previous AQAP prison break in Sana’a; Saudi official announces discovery of AQAP militant cell; IED blast injures civilians in Aden city; Yemeni Security Forces and Popular Committee members seize control of al Mahfad town in Abyan governorate

Horn of Africa: al Shabaab attacks AMISOM and SNA forces in Hiraan region; Somali Prime Minister calls for ceasefire in Gedo region; U.S. and Djibouti agree to extend security cooperation

Yemen Security Brief

  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video to its “Ansar al Sharia News” Twitter account on May 3. Produced by AQAP media arm al Malahem Media Foundation, the video includes footage of Ansar al Sharia's leader in Zinjibar, Jalal al Marqishi, claiming that local tribesmen in Abyan and Shabwah governorates have aided AQAP militants “significantly” in their fight against Yemeni security forces.[1]
  • Yemeni security forces defused an improvised explosive device (IED) found near an intelligence building in al Bayda governorate on May 4.[2]
  • The UN Security Council and EU Policy Chief Catherine Ashton issued separate statements strongly condemning the killing of a French EU security worker in Sana’a on May 5 and expressing continued support for Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s fight against terrorism in Yemen.[3]
  • Unverified documents surfaced on May 6 indicating that Yemeni security authorities had received advanced warning that AQAP militants were planning a prison break at Sanaa’s central prison on April 14. Letters written from the manager of Sana’a prison to members of the Yemeni Interior Ministry on Dec. 7, 2013 indicated that AQAP members within the prison were coordinating with outside AQAP members to plan the prison break, during which at least 19 militants escaped. Yemeni ministry officials are currently conducting investigations into the event.[4]
  • Saudi Interior Spokesman Major General Mansour al Turki announced the discovery of an AQAP militant cell with purported connections to “extremist elements” in both Syria and Yemen, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Saudi officials claim that the 62 member group, comprised of 59 Saudis, one Yemeni, one Pakistani, and one Palestinian, planned to attack officials and foreign governments.[5]
  • An IED reportedly detonated inside a house in the city of Aden on May 6. The explosion killed one child and wounded four civilians. Further details surrounding the event remain unclear.[6]
  • Yemeni security forces and Popular Committee members seized control of the town of al Mahfad in Abyan governorate from AQAP militants on May 6 after AQAP militants exploded a local government building and fled. Yemeni officials reported that in addition to confiscating a number of suicide vests, explosive devices, and ammunition, security forces have begun establishing military checkpoints along the main road into al Mahfad.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants attacked an AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) military base in the Bulo-Burde district of Hiraan region on May 6. The SNA commander in the district, Abdullahi Barre, reported that AMISOM and SNA forces repelled the attack, killing four militants and injuring seven more.[8]
  • Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed called for a ceasefire between rival militias in Beled Hawo in Gedo region on May 6. Recent reporting indicates that militia loyal to the Jubba Interim Administration attacked the local Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a militia in Beled Hawo after Ethiopian AMISOM forces withdrew from the town on May 5. Prime Minister Ahmed warned that the federal government intends to take legal action against those involved in the recent conflict.[9]
  • The U.S. government reached an agreement with the Djiboutian government on May 5 to extend security cooperation between the two countries. U.S. President Obama and Djiboutian President Guelleh announced a ten year extension of the lease on the U.S. military base, Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti. Camp Lemonnier is the only U.S. military base in sub-Saharan Africa and is the launching point for U.S. military operations in the Gulf of Aden region.[10]

[1] “AQAP Commander Claims Tribesmen are Helping Fighters ‘Significantly,’” SITE Intel Group, May 5, 2014. Available at SITE.
[2] “Al Qaeda targets Yemen institutions and officials,” Yemen Post, May 5, 2014. Available:
[3] “Security Council decries deadly terrorist attack in Yemeni capital,” UN News Centre, May 5, 2014. Available:
“EU's Ashton condemns killing of EU security worker in Yemen,” Reuters, April 5, 2014. Available:
[4] “Yemeni authorities were warned ahead of AQAP prison raid: documents,” May 6, 2014. Available:
[5] “Saudi Arabia says uncovers al Qaeda cell plotting attacks,” Reuters, May 6, 2014.
[6] “Blast kills child in Yemen's Aden,” Turkish Press, May 6, 2014. Available:
[7] “Yemen army enters militant stronghold in south - defence ministry,” Reuters, May 6, 2014. Available:
“Yemen says army captures key militant stronghold,” Reuters, May 6, 2014. Available:
[8] “4 Al Shabaab fighters killed in Bulo-burte, Hiran region,” Bar Kulan, May 6, 2014. Available:
[9] “SOMALIA: PM calls immediate ceasefire for warring sides in Beledhawa,” RBC Radio, May 6, 2014. Available:
“SOMALIA: Heavy gun-battle in Beledhawa town kills four,” RBC Radio, May 5, 2014. Available:
“Government troops battle Ahulusunna Waljamaaca forces Gedo,” Shabelle News, May 5, 2014. Available:
[10] “US, Djibouti Reach 10-Year Security Agreement,” AP, May 5, 2014. Available:
“Remarks by President Obama and President Guelleh of Djibouti before Bilateral Meeting,” The White House, May 5, 2014. Available:
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