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 emir gives religious lecture; Hadi government forces reportedly destroy al Houthi tank in al Hudaydah

Horn of Africa: Plane carrying aid supplies crashes in southern Somalia; ISCA claims attack on Mozambican forces in northeastern Mozambique; unidentified perpetrators kill Somali journalist in Mogadishu

Yemen Security Brief:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) media foundation, al Malahem, released a video of AQAP leader Khaled Batarfi giving a religious lecture on May 4. Batarfi spoke about Quranic verses that focus on consequences for those who divert from faith and how Muslims should deal with hardships. This video is the eight episode in a series titled “Reflections on the Two Chapters an Nur and al Hujurat,” released on April 24. Batarfi previously appeared in a video pledging allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri on March 20.[1]

Forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi reportedly destroyed an al Houthi tank in al Hudaydah city in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen on May 6. Hadi government forces previously reported repelling multiple al Houthi attacks in al Hudaydah governorate on May 5.[2]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

A Kenyan airplane carrying coronavirus supplies crashed in Bardale in Bay region in southern Somalia on May 4, killing six passengers. The cause of the crash remains unknown but witnesses reported that a rocket propelled grenade targeted the aircraft. Local Somali sources have reported suspicions that al Shabaab militants or Ethiopian troops may have shot the plane. The Ethiopian defense spokesman denied any involvement in the accident. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) released a statement on May 5 supporting Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia’s decision to conduct a joint investigation into the crash. Al Shabaab controls parts of Bardale but AMISOM controls its airfield.[3]

The Islamic State’s Central Africa Province (ISCA) claimed attacking a Mozambican military post in Macomia in Cabo Delgado region in northeastern Mozambique on May 5. ISCA reported killing multiple Mozambican soldiers and released photos of captured weapons. ISCA allegedly shot down a Mozambican military helicopter in Quissanga in Cabo Delgado region in early April.[4]

Two unidentified people killed a Somali reporter in the Somali capital Mogadishu on May 4. The reporter allegedly covered stories on al Shabaab’s operations and recent militant activity. Initial evidence from the crime scene suggests that the perpetrators deliberately targeted the victim, according to Reporters without Borders. This is the second report of a Somali journalist killed this year.[5]

[1] “AQAP Leader Delivers Episodic Religious Lecture on Handling Affliction, Maintaining Propriety,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 5, 2020, available by subscription at; and Pamela Makadsi and Samuel Bloebaum, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – March 23, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, March 23, 2020,

[2] “Heavy human and material losses incurred by the Houthi militia in this ‘front’ – details,” Al Montasaf, May 6, 2020,; and Muhammad Ramadhito and Kalissa Azooz, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – May 5, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, May 5, 2020,

[3] “Coronavirus: Somalia probes Kenyan aid plane crash,” BBC, May 5, 2020,; Abuga Makori, “Cargo plane ‘shot down’ in Somalia, all occupants killed,” Garowe News, May 5, 2020,; and “AMISOM support mutual investigation by Somalia, Kenya & Ethiopia on Bardale Plane crash,” Goobjoob, May 5, 2020,

[4] “ISCAP Claims Killing Multiple Mozambican Soldiers in Raid, Documents War Spoils,” SITE Intelligence Group, available by subscription at; and Samuel Bloebaum and Pamela Makadsi, “Gulf of Aden Security Review – April 20, 2020,” Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, April 20, 2020,  

[5] Reporters sans Frontieres, “Somalia: TV Reporter Stabbed to Death in Mogadishu,” All Africa, May 5, 2020,

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