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: ISIS Wilayat Sana’a detonates IED in mosque in Shibam, Mahwit governorate; Yemen at risk of locust swarm; al Houthis plant landmines in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab captures Fiidow town, Middle Shabelle region; al Shabaab ambushes AMISOM convoy between Golweyne and Bula-Marer, Lower Shabelle region; IJA soldiers kill civilian in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region

Yemen Security Brief:

  • Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Sana’a detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) during midday prayers at an al Houthi-controlled mosque in the Shibam area of Mahwit governorate, west of Sana’a, on November 13. The explosion killed several worshippers and wounded more. ISIS Wilayat Sana’a has claimed responsibility for four IED attacks in the region surrounding Sana’a over the past three and a half weeks.[1]
  • Yemen faces the possibility of a plague of locusts as a result of the massive amount of rainfall from cyclones Chapala and Megh. The two cyclones deposited more than a year’s worth of rain on the island of Socotra, as well as Hadramawt, Shabwah, and Abyan governorates in southern and eastern Yemen. Estimates indicate the ground in these areas can retain sufficient moisture for locusts to lay their eggs for up to six months. Crop-devouring locusts would exacerbate Yemen’s dire food situation, with 12.9 million people living in food insecurity.[2]
  • Al Houthi forces reportedly planted a perimeter of landmines around the south and southwestern entrances to Taiz city in southern Yemen on November 13. They also continued to shell civilian neighborhoods northern Taiz, killing two and wounding 23.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief:

  • Al Shabaab militants captured the Middle Shabelle region’s Fiidow town on November 13 after defending African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces vacated the area the previous night. Government officials described the withdrawal as part of planned “military tactics,” and stated that they intend to recapture the town. Fiidow is situated in a key strategic location along the Middle Shabelle and Hiraan region’s border, and its capture allows militants to launch attacks on nearby cities in both regions.[4] 
  • Al Shabaab militants ambushed an AMISOM convoy on November 12 as it traveled between Golweyne and Bula-Marer in the Lower Shabelle region. Government officials confirmed the ambush and said that a clash between the two sides took place, but they did not release casualty figures.[5] 
  • Interim Jubbaland Administration (IJA) security forces killed a prominent business owner on November 12 in Kismayo, Lower Jubba region.  Witnesses said that IJA forces ordered the victim out of his vehicle and shot him. IJA officials denied the witness reports, instead stating that the businessman was killed accidentally by crossfire.[6]  

[1] “Update 1- Worshippers killed as bomb hits Yemen mosque in Houthi-dominated region- residents,” Reuters, November 13, 2015. Available:
Pro-ISIS Twitter Account, November 13, 2015. Source available upon request.
[2] “Battered by civil war and historic cyclones, Yemen now faces swarm of locusts,” Vice News, November 12, 2015. Available:
“Yemen crisis: How bad is the humanitarian situation?” BBC, August 24, 2015. Available:
[3] “Houthi militias plant landmines in entrances to Taiz city,” Barakish, November 13, 2015. Available:
[4] “Al Shabaab militants retake Somali town from African Union troops,” Shabelle News, November 13, 2015. Available:
“Al-shabaab retakes Fiidow following withdrawal by AMISOM’s Burundi forces,” Wacaal Media, November 13, 2015. Available:
[5] “Al Shabaab attacks AMISOM patrol in Lower in Lower Shabelle region,” Shabelle News, November 12, 2015. Available:
Live From Mogadishu, Twitter, November 12, 2015. Available:
[6] “Jubbaland soldier kills a well-known businessman in Kismayo city,” Shabelle News, November 12, 2015. Available:
“Jubbaland forces kill prominent businessman in Kismayu,” Wacaal Media, November 12, 2015. Available:
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