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: Alleged AQAP bomb plot uncovered; Popular Resistance Committee in Lahij kills a dangerous AQAP operative; AQAP released video eulogizing Mohammed al Haniq, a regional Ansar al Sharia commander

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants shell AMISOM forces in Mogadishu; landmine explodes in Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district; men with explosive vests arrested outside of Mogadishu; unidentified gunmen kill TFG soldier and local official in Mogadishu; Kenya-based Muslim Youth Center vows to continue jihad on anniversary of bin Laden’s death; new Beledweyne mayor bans guns

Yemen Security Brief

  • U.S. officials reported that the CIA has thwarted a plot allegedly by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner using a refined improvised explosive device (IED). The bomb was seized by an undercover agent, who successfully infiltrated a bomb cell in Yemen according to ABC News. An international intelligence official said that the inside source was “safely out of Yemen,” and successfully transported the bomb to Saudi Arabia. Reportedly, the would-be bomber had not yet been picked. In a statement released on May 7, the FBI reported that the bomb was seized abroad and is now in its possession for further investigation. The statement added, “Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by [AQAP] in attempted terrorist attacks.” The FBI stated that the bomb did not contain any metal. While it is unclear who built the bomb, Ibrahim al Asiri, an AQAP bomb maker, built a similar bomb used by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber” who failed to detonate his explosive on a flight on Christmas 2009. White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that President Obama was made aware of the plot in April, adding that the device posed no threat to the public.[1]
  • The Popular Resistance Committee, a group of armed pro-government civilians, reportedly killed an AQAP operative, Bassam al Sayed, in Radfan in Lahij governorate on May 7. Sayed was originally detained by Yemeni security forces in February 2010, but later escaped. He was charged with several counts of murder and kidnapping.[2]
  • AQAP released a video on jihadist forums on May 4 through its media wing, al Malahem Foundation, featuring AQAP’s shari’a official Abu Zubair Adil al Abab. In the video, Abab gives a eulogy for Abu Omar Mohammed al Haniq, Ansar al Sharia’s commander of Sana’a governorate’s Arhab district who reportedly died of illness on March 4. Abab referred to Haniq as a “sheikh of jihad and support,” and commended him for his role in adjudicating cases in Jaar, an Ansar al Sharia-run town in Abyan governorate.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants shelled African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces overnight in Mogadishu’s Daynile district; two al Shabaab militants were killed in the ensuing battle. At least seven civilians were killed when mortars landed on their homes, including four people from one family.[4]
  • A landmine exploded in Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district, killing two Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers and one civilian.[5]
  • Somali security forces arrested two men wearing explosive vests at Ex-Control Afgoi checkpoint, which lies between Mogadishu and Afgoi. The men were apparently attempting to carry out an al Shabaab-planned suicide attack in Mogadishu.[6]
  • Unidentified gunmen killed a TFG soldier and local official in Mogadishu’s Wadajir district on the night of May 7. The local official was Moallin Ismail, who worked for Somalia’s immigration and identification office in Wadajir.[7] 
  • The Kenya-based Muslim Youth Center (MYC) posted a message on its website on May 2, the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. The message denies that his death was a “decisive blow;” on the contrary, the group asserts that jihadists have “redoubled your efforts; refocused your energies and recommitted yourselves to bringing jihad to the heart of the Kuffar’s powerbase. Look across from here in Kenya where [many] Kenyan Mujahideen have gone on hijra [emigration] to Somalia to keep the Islamic flag flying high.”[8]
  • For the first time in two decades, residents of Beledweyne in Hiraan region voted a new mayor into office on May 7. Mayor Mohamed Hasan Nuriye announced on May 8 that it would no longer be permitted to carry firearms within the city.[9]       

[1] “FBI Statement on Seizure of IED Overseas,” FBI, May 7, 2012. Available:
Adam Goldman, “CIA Thwarts ‘Undetectable’ al-Qaida Bomb Plot,” AP, May 7, 2012. Available:
Richard Esposito, Rhonda Schwartz, and Brian Ross, “Al Qaeda Bomb Cell Infiltrated by Insider Who Foiled New Airline Plot: Officials,” ABC News, May 8, 2012. Available:
[2] “Dangerous Al-Qaeda Operative Killed in Lahj,” Yemen Post, May 7, 2012. Available:
[3] “AQAP Shariah Official Gives Eulogy for Deceased Regional Leader,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 7, 2012. Available at SITE.
[4] Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar, “Somali Rebels Shell Peacekeepers, At Least 9 Dead,” Reuters, May 8, 2012. Available:
“Mortars Kill 7 People, Including 4 Children, After Landing on Homes in Capital of Mogadishu,” AP, May 8, 2012. Available:
[5] “Big Blast in Mogadishu Wounds Three, Including Soldiers,” Shabelle Media Network, May 8, 2012. Available:
[6] “Official: Somali Security Forces Thwart Suicide Attacks in Mogadishu,” Shabelle Media Network, May 8, 2012. Available:
[7] “Unknown Gunmen Kill Two in Somali Capital,” Shabelle Media Network, May 8, 2012. Available:
[8] “MYC Embraces Jihad on Anniversary of Bin Laden’s Death,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 7, 2012. Available at SITE.
[9] “Beledweyne Finally Gets Elected Mayor,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 7, 2012. Available:
“Newly Appointed Beledweyne Mayor Bans Firearms in the City,” Radio Bar-Kulan, May 8, 2012. Available:
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