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: Ansar al Sharia attacks Yemeni army bases near Zinjibar; AQAP operative Fahd al Quso killed by suspected U.S. drone strike in Shabwah governorate; Yemeni airstrikes in Lawder kill five al Qaeda-linked militants; two Belgian nationals detained in Yemen on April 13 for involvement in terrorism may be deported; Abdul Malik al Houthi claims that Saudi Arabia is preparing to attack Hajjah governorate; Saudi diplomat and Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen to be released; Yemeni Interior Ministry warns of terror attack on Sana’a

Horn of Africa: Clashes between TFG and al Shabaab militants in Beledweyne outskirts; al Shabaab militants ambush Ahlu Sunna convoy in Elbur district; traditional elders’ conference convenes in Mogadishu to decide assembly to create new constitution and parliament; reported tensions within al Shabaab over dismissal of Afmadow commander

Yemen Security Brief

  • Military and local sources reported that Ansar al Sharia militants launched a pre-dawn assault, by both sea and land, on Yemeni military bases belonging to the 115th Infantry Brigade in Dofes and al Kod near Zinjibar in Abyan governorate. Military officials stated that at least 20 soldiers were killed, 40 were injured, and 25 others were captured in the attack. Yemeni officials later reported that 16 militants were killed when Yemeni forces shelled militant positions in Abyan governorate.[1]
  • Fahd al Quso, an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative indicted in the U.S. for his role in the USS Cole bombing in 2000, was reportedly killed late on May 6 by a suspected U.S. drone strike in Wadi Rafad in southern Shabwah governorate. Yemeni military officials reported that Quso was killed as he was stepping out of his vehicle alongside one other AQAP operative. Madad News Agency, Ansar al Sharia’s media wing, confirmed Quso’s death on a message posted on its Facebook page on May 6.[2]
  • Yemeni military officials reported that a Yemeni airstrike in Lawder in Abyan governorate killed five al Qaeda-linked militants on May 5.[3]
  • Belgium’s Foreign Ministry and a Yemeni security official reported on May 6 that two Belgian nationals could be deported for their alleged involvement in “terrorist activity.” The two men, identified as Ebrahim Bali and Ezzeddine Tuhairi, were arrested on April 13 at Sana’a’s International Airport while trying to enter the country.[4]
  • The Yemeni Interior Ministry warned of a potential terror attack in the capital, Sana’a, on May 4. In response, the Yemeni Interior Ministry bolstered security near foreign embassies and other sensitive targets, according to, a Yemeni news site.[5]
  • Al Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi claimed that Saudi Arabian forces were preparing to attack parts of northern Hajjah governorate in a statement released on May 6: “The attack will be carried out from the Wadi Ghamis area in Hajjah in the far north.”[6]
  • Deputy Interior Minister Mohammed al Qawsi announced that Saudi diplomat Abdullah al Khaldi and Swiss woman Sylvia Abrahat, kidnapped on March 28 and 14 respectively, are expected to be released within 48 hours of May 6.[7]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Heavy fighting broke out between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and al Shabaab militants on the outskirts of Beledweyne in Hiraan region after the militants attacked a TFG military base on May 6. Ahmed Osman Abdalle, the deputy governor of Hiraan region, reported that the attack was successfully repelled; furthermore, he said that eight militants were killed and three TFG soldiers were wounded in the clashes.[8]
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed an Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a convoy in Elbur district in Galgudud region. An Ahlu Sunna officer reported that seven militants had been killed in the ensuing fighting and one Ahlu Sunna fighter was injured.[9]
  • A traditional elders’ conference convened for the first time on May 5 at the police academy in Mogadishu’s Abdi Aziz district. The 135 elders will select an 825-member Constituent Assembly, which will in turn draft a new constitution and establish a new parliament. TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden attended the opening of the conference.[10]
  • Tensions were reported within the ranks of al Shabaab due to the alleged dismissal of Mohamed Abu Sa’ad, the militant group’s commander of Afmadow in Lower Jubba region. Sa’ad has reportedly been replaced by Ahmed Adde, but insists that he is the legitimate Afmadow commander.[11]     

[1] “Yemeni Officials: Al-Qaida Fighters Kill 20 Troops,” AP, May 7, 2012. Available:
“30 Soldiers Killed and Dozens Captured in an al Qaeda Attack on Army Positions in Abyan,” Al Masdar Online, May 7, 2012. Available:
Mohammed Mukhashaf, “At Least 32 Yemeni Troops Killed in Militant Attack,” Reuters, May 7, 2012. Available:
[2] Ahmed al Haj, “Al-Qaida Surprise Attack Kills 20 Yemeni Soldiers,” AP, May 7, 2012. Available:
“Fahd al Quso Killed in an American Raid in Shabwah,” Al Masdar Online, May 6, 2012. Available:
“AQAP Official Fahd al-Quso Killed in US Drone Strike,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 6, 2012. Available at SITE.
[3] “Airstrikes Kill 5 Militants in Yemen,” AP, May 5, 2012. Available:
[4] “Two Belgian “Terrorism” Suspects Detained in Yemen,” Reuters, May 6, 2012. Available:
[5] “Yemen: Security Forces Warned of Terror Attack on Capital,” Adnkronos International, May 4, 2012. Available:,0,3908648.story
[6] “Houthi Says Saudi Arabia Prepares to Attack Yemen Area,” Yemen Post, May 6, 2012. Available:
[7] “Saudi, Swiss Captives to Be Released,” Yemen Post, May 6, 2012. Available:
[8] “Deadly Fight Erupts on the Outskirts of Beledweyne Town,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 7, 2012. Available:
[9] Al-Shabaab, Ahlu Sunna Clash in Parts of El-bur District,” May 7, 2012. Available:
[10] “Traditional Elders’ Conference Continues 3rd Day in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, May 7, 2012. Available:
[11] “Rift Erupts Within al-Shabaab’s Leadership in Lower Juba,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 6, 2012. Available:
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